Walking Out

You may recall this dialogue from the start of the Charlie’s Angels movie:

LL Cool J: Another movie from an old TV show.
Mad Bomber Guy: What are ya gonna do?
LL Cool J: Walk out.

(The punchline being that they are on an aeroplane, which leads into some sky-diving action.)

That got me thinking about walking out of movies. It seems to be the ultimate sign of a bad movie if it causes someone to walk out. I thought back to all the movies I’d seen and I could only think of one where I’d actually walked out, and two where I came really close.

The Near Walkout I

I can’t even remember what the film was, but it was some costume drama that would have come out around 1993 (possibly Scorcese’s “The Age of Innocence”). I was seeing it with my friend Renee and the film was just dragging along and being very dull and boring.

So we briefly discussed it and decided to walk out if it didn’t get better soon. Then disaster struck. Renee had recently got her nose pierced and somehow she managed to knock the stud out. She tried looking for it, but the theatre was too dark to see it. We had to wait until the film finished so she could locate the stud.

From what I can remember the film actually got better and I didn’t totally hate it, but it would have been a walkout if it weren’t for that pesky grunge-era jewellery.

The Near Walkout II

Generally speaking, the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme are pretty choice, but I think it’s fair to say that the 1995 film “Sudden Death” was just shit.

Usually in most Van Damme films there’s some reasonably plausible excuse for why there’s this guy with a French accent in the midst of a bunch of Americans (“This is Jean-Pierre from the Quebec FBI.”, “I grew up on a shrimp plantation in New Orleans.”), however in “Sudden Death” his Euro origins are ignored – he plays a character called Darren McCord.

The plot of the film has been described as “”Die Hard” in a hockey stadium”, but “Die Hard” was pretty cool and “Sudden Death” was shit, so its an unfair comparison.

I was sitting there in the theatre watching it and I realised that I knew exactly how it was going to end. The mad terrorist was going to be beaten by Van Damme, and the hockey stadium full of people would be saved. There was no suspense, no action, no drama. It was just a matter of the film getting on with filling in the blanks.

I considered walking out. Sitting there watching the rest of the film seemed like such an incredible waste of my time, even worse than the time I accidentally had dinner at Renee’s grandparents’ place (fish with white sauce and vegetables, canned fruit salad and vanilla ice cream).

But something kept me there, in the theatre. Perhaps my desire to see all of the films in Van Damme’s oevre, or maybe just laziness. However, I was on the verge of seriously walking out.

The Big Walkout

My only real walkout was due to the film making me feel sick – literally. When “Breaking The Waves” came out there was a bit of publicity surrounding the fact the the hand-held camera work was causing some audience members to experience motion sickness and people were even walking out because they felt so ill during the film.

So when I came to see “Breaking The Waves,” I thought I was pretty hardcore and would be able to handle it ok. However, I was getting over a bad cold and had been feeling crappy most of the day. I sat in my usual position (centre of the third row from the front – it’s where all the energy focuses, man) and was sure I would be ok.

But about two thirds of the way through the film I began to feel really ill. I didn’t want to leave because I was really enjoying the film, but my enjoyment was soon overridden by an increasing wave of nausea. I realised that I would have to leave or risk puking. So much to my regret I got up and left.

I ended up getting “Breaking The Waves” on video and watched it to the end without feeling nauseated.

So I’m yet to actually walk out of a movie in disgust. It’s probably not likely to happen because it seems that most films that make it to the cinemas in New Zealand aren’t that bad. Maybe I could rent a really bad video and walk out on it?

Bigger Than Bugger

I don’t own or posses a television and because of this I don’t watch a lot of television (quelle surprise!). One day I noticed the word “bugger” kept popping up in the newspaper (The New Zealand Herald, which I do not enjoy reading, I only read it because there’s always a copy at work lying around. It says nothing to me about my life. But that’s another rant.).

Upon further investigation I learned that there was an advertisement on TV for some type of Toyota vehicles that used the punchline “bugger”. I asked around and was told by at least one person that this advertisement was “very very funny.”

So this started a spate of bugger-madness in the nation. Every lame newspaper cartoonist (like there are non-lame newspaper cartoonists) was doing a bugger-themed cartoon. My co-workers laughed at it. “Ha ha,” they’d say. “That’s really funny! I’m going to cut this out and show it to Ian!” Or whoever.

I noticed a shop selling t-shirts with “BUGGER” printed on them. Oh yes, Mr Shopkeeper, I’ll have eight of those, please! Think how rad I will look when I am playing touch rugby on the weekend wearing my “BUGGER” t-shirt!

It leads to this sort of crap, from a local newsgroup:

I wonder, is there anyone out there who has an AVI/MPEG/MOV of the Toyota ‘Bugger!’ commercial that I could download?

I would also be interested in a copy.

And me….!!

I could go on about the advertising people who created the ad, how I imagine them sitting around getting drunk thinking that they are The Shit. But that’s not it.

It’s everyone. The normal everyday people who think it’s the most hysterically funny thing ever.

The kind of people who accuse me of not having a sense of humour because I don’t find jokes with the punchline “bugger” humorous. Somethings are bigger than bugger.

But I shall leave the last word to the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. A Heretic: used esp. of the Albigenses (Hist.)
2. One who commits buggery; a sodomite. In decent use only as a legal term. 1555.
b. A coarse term of abuse; also, in Eng. dial. and in U.S., = ‘chap’, ‘customer’, etc. Hense Bugger v to commit buggery with.

Horror

I can handle most film genres. Even westerns (High Noon is the funky shit). But I have to draw the line at horror films. I just don’t like them.

I’ve seen Friday The 13th, and the Evil Dead trilogy, and caught a few snippets of other horror films on TV, but there’s no way I’d see a horror film by choice.

I guess the thing I don’t like is all the tension. Build-up and release, build-up and release. But it’s not even good. Not even Scream appeals to me. I don’t think I’d get the in-jokes because I wasn’t there the first time around.

For me, horror films are not horrifying. But I’ll tell you what is.

It’s a film called Sex. It was made in 1978 and stars a geriatric Mae West (she was 85 years old) playing a newlywed. Her husband is played by 32 year old Timothy Dalton. That in itself is pretty terrifying, but it’s only the surface.

The basic story is, Mae West’s character, a multiple divorcee has recently married. She’s at a hotel on their honeymoon, which is also hosting a political conference. Some ambassador type person is a former husband of hers, and she’s asked to seduce him into agreeing to something. She doesn’t want to, but in the end she gives in.

It gets worse. It’s a musical.

None of the music is original. In one scene, Dom DeLuise dances atop a grand piano while singing The Beatles’ “Honey Pie.” Why? God knows.

The show stopper is the, er, tender moment where Timothy Dalton sings “Love will keep us together” (originally by Captain and Tenille) to Mae while she contributes “No, stop” in appropriate moments.

Now about Miss West. When she was younger she was great. She was funny and sexy and had men wrapped around her little finger. In this film she’s 85. She wears slinky gowns. She has long blonde hair which has got to be a wig. She’s old and wrinkled and and saggy and looks like Dr Phibes (now that was actually a pretty good horror movie).

The movie ends with her resolving all issues with her previous lovers. Timothy, who is an English lord, has mistakenly thought she’s not interested in him and has gone off to his boat to sulk. He starts quietly singing “Love will keep us together” to himself. Suddenly he hears “No, stop” coming from the bedroom. He investigates and there is his new bride in bed wearing a lacy nightie waiting for her husband. He kisses her… on the cheek.

Then something wonderful happens. The film ends. Yes, thankfully and mercifully we are spared the site of Mae and Timothy gettin’ it on. The closing credits roll over their boat a-chuggin’ down the Thames.

To watch this is a test of human endurance. When I saw it I had glandular fever and just didn’t have the physical strength to walk away or even change channels.

Normal, healthy people attempting to watch this movie should ask themselves, “should I be watching this sober?” The answer is no.

I am warning you. This film is a nightmare.

Il Porno

My parents just got back from a holiday in Italy. When they were taking time out from doing the usual tourist stuff, i.e. visiting old things, they watched a bit of television.

My mother send me a couple of e-mails describing two of the more entertaining shows they’d seen, and I thought I’d share them with y’all.

We saw what we thought was an interesting game show, so we watched it. Let me introduce the main players.

Compere – A forty-ish overweight man with a mo, the entertainment officer on a cruise type.

Setting – The deck of a ship, complete with deck chairs and a fruit machine, and a couple of platforms.

The rest of the cast – 6 lovely ladies in skimpy costumes, they were the colours of the fruit on the fruit machine, and they had little fruit symbols on their costumes.

The main contestants – Carla and Leopold.

Secondary contestants – Four lovely ladies. These four ladies were wearing identical outfits consisting of tight fitting short black sparkling dress, bra, stockings, knickers, suspender belt and a lovely pill box hat. The hats were in a different colour for each lovely lady. They were also wearing black shoes.

There was a lot of chat between the compere and Carla and Leopold. Once or twice they pulled the handle of the fruit machine. When this happened the lovely ladies clapped and laughed and then they all bared their boobs to the camera. Their tops were boned or wired so that they could just pull them open and then they would close back again. It was difficult to tell what all the chat was about.

After a few minutes, Carla went up onto the platform and did a strip tease. She could not reach her zip on the back of her dress, so one of the lovely ladies undid it for her, ditto her suspender belt. She jiggled away and when her act was finished she went off and was given a dressing gown to put on. Then Leopold took centre stage, and he did a strip act too. He wasn’t very good, he did things like trying to take his shirt off when he still had his bow tie on. He took off his shirt and he appeared to be wearing a grey cotton t shirt under it. This turned out to be an all in one neck to knee job which stayed on. He was also given a dressing gown to put on. Leopold and Carla earned more points or dollars depending on how much they took off.

Next it was the turn of the hat ladies. They appeared to be trainee strippers, and each one in turn came on stage and did her little act. They also had to have one of the fruit ladies to assist. They all stripped down to stockings, knickers, and most important of all, THEY KEPT THEIR HATS ON.

I was so pleased that they were demonstrating a little bit of modesty. As each of these four finished their strip, they went to the back of the stage and jiggled away in time to the music, no dressing gowns for them. Of course through all this we kept getting boob shows from all the fruit ladies.

Then it all appeared to be over. The compere said his little bit and all the credits flashed up on the screen. But the finale was yet to come. A new lovely lady came on and she seemed to be the numero uno of the show. She put on a very professional strip where she ended up with everything off, (I can’t recall whether she had a hat or not) Mind you some camera angles were a bit fuzzy, but then so was she. All in all, an interesting evenings entertainment.

On our last morning in Venice I was surfing the channels and I came across the home shopping channel. (This was 6.15 am.) There was a stripper on the screen provocatively stripping to slow music, and across the bottom of the screen was a phone number which I presume you call for telephone titillation. But the strangest thing of all was in the top left hand corner of the screen in quite large print was the message VERY SEXY BLOB I cannot imagine what they were intending to say, boob, boobs, body?? It finished as 6.30 and the channel reverted to more mundane home shopping. I assume the lovely ladies had been stripping all night.

Audience Behaviour

There are those stories of when motion pictures first started out. When the local town hall would show a silent film accompanied by Gladys, the church’s organ player improvising a piano soundtrack. There’d be a shot of a train coming towards the camera and terrified first-time viewers would run screaming from the room convinced that the train was coming straight for them.

Oh, we can laugh and think now naive movie-viewing audiences were back then, but things haven’t totally changed all that much.

I found myself at a midnight screening of “Ever After”, a retelling of the Cinderella story. A young man, sitting near me appeared to be extremely involved in the film.

At first it appeared that he couldn’t handle the basic essence of a fairy tale, in that it’s told in an over-the-top melodramatic fashion. The good are very good, and the bad are very bad.

As a result of this, he made little comments to his friend whenever things got emotional on the screen. The comments were also made whenever Drew Barrymore’s cleavage was seen.

I told him to be quiet, and thankfully he was. But it didn’t stop.

He think became hyper-involved with the film. In one scene, the wicked stepsister make a nasty remark about Cinderella’s mother, Cinderella punched her, and overcome with emotion, this fellow burst into spontaneous applause.

Another time the wicked stepmother said to the other stepsister that it didn’t matter what she wore to the ball because “You’re only there for the food.” To this the guy went, “Oooooh!”

It took all the self-control I could muster not to dish out some punishment.

I once read that audience behaviour changed after the advent of home video viewing. In the comfort of your own home, it’s quite all right to make hilarious comments about the film you’re watching, to hide under the couch when things get scary, or to start a “USA! USA!” chant when Bruce Willis blows some shit up.

But when you’re in a public movie theatre, it can sometimes be hard for some people to remember that there may be other people who are here for hot movie action, not for your comments, gasps, jokes, and certainly can figure things out on their own and do not require you to make statements such as “Oh, he was in on it right from the beginning!” or “Ahhh… she’s going to kill him now!”

Just sit back, relax, watch the film, and realise that it is a work of fiction. Otherwise don’t act too surprised if someone in the row behind you dumps the ice from her coke down the back your shirt.

Star Wars

Unlike practically everyone else in the entire universe, I had not, until recently, ever seen any of the Star Wars trilogy.

I was 2 years old when Star Wars was released and apparently I wasn’t really into movies at that age. In 1980, the year the Empire Strikes Back was released, I saw “Can’t Stop the Music”, starring the Village People.

I have no memory of those two films existing at the time, but I do remember Return of the Jedi. My brother saw it, and I remember him telling me about the unmasking of Darth Vader. We were on holiday in Paraparaumu in the summer of 1983-1984. There was some promotion that was giving away masks of various Star Wars characters. My brother and I put Darth Vader masks on the windows of the tent (I think I saw it as a means of scaring away mean people), but all I remember happening is some kids stopped and looked at it and thought it was Darth Vader’s tent or something. I also remember going to a department store in Wellington that had a thing that you could listen to and hear Darth Vader’s breathing. Wooooo.

I never saw any of the Star Wars films, but I knew what they were all about. I remember when I was about 5 years old there being a big debate amongst my friends at school about how long Princess Leia’s hair was when it was loose. Someone said it went down to her feet, but someone else reckoned it was only down to her shoulders.

On the great ’80s tv show “That’s Incredible” there was a kid who had written a book of questions about Star Wars that was so detailed that practically no one could answer it all. Which means that I’d probably get one question right.

My cousins, who I imagine have probably seen the trilogy about a million times, had a good selection of Star Wars figurines and various craft. I was intrigued by what appeared to be Chewbacca’s flares. I used to make Leia kiss Han and turned Vader into a high fashion model.

I went through life being a Star Wars virgin. When I was studying film production at tech I there were a couple of guys in my class who were hard-core Star Wars fans. They were pretty shocked when I revealed that I’d never seen the trilogy. I didn’t get invited to the Star Wars video evening they had.

Then the special editions got released and I thought, oh why the hell not. Playing just down the road from me in digital stereo was the Star Wars trilogy, so I saw it.

Star Wars

When Luke comes to rescue Leia from the imperial forces she looks more like someone who’s getting ready to see Darth Vader’s shiny black helmet up close than someone who’s scared. Luke seems really dumb in Star Wars, little bimbo boy. Chewbacca is like some retarded guy on a community work integration scheme. Han rules. Darth Vader is evil. And Obi Wan is mystical yeah, cool. Plus all the storm troopers on the Death Star are worthy of respect.

The Empire Strikes Back

Well hello goddam, if this ain’t one of the best movies in the entire universe. It’s dark, evil and it feels good. The Empire strikes back and keeps striking back and the Rebel forces only just manage to keep a little bit ahead. I thoroughly enjoy the noise that R2-D2 makes when he gets thrown out of the swamp. The thing I like best about the film is how there’ll be a bit with Luke and Yoda in the swamp doing that force thing, then it cuts to the Empire dudes and to announce it the evil empire theme thing gets played. That is such cool theme music. I really like the torture device that Han gets tortured with (not that I want to try it, or anything) and when he can be heard screaming in the background, it is so very special. There aren’t as many imperial storm troopers, but when they do appear it is mighty. The thing I like about the storm troopers is how they are dressed mainly in white, but there’s the black underneath. That black is evil. So much bad stuff happens, Luke discovers that Vader is his father and gets his hand cut off, Han gets frozen in carbon, and C-3PO gets blown up (by a storm trooper) and the film ends with the bad guys more or less winning.

Return of the Jedi

Lots of storm troopers, so that was pleasing. It seemed like the movie was mostly full of cute fluffy Ewoks and storm troopers crashing into trees. Leia and Han find true love, happy happy. But the bit that really annoys me is that Darth Vader ends up being good. No! This is wrong. Everyone knows that Darth Vader is meant to be mean and evil. He is not susceptible to goodness. Life’s like that, full of people who appear to be and say they are mean and evil but end up being really nice. I could kick Vader’s arse.

I think I’m on my way to becoming a fully-fledged Star Wars bitch. I’ve been thinking of seeing the original version on video. I was in Real Groovy Records and almost dairy-whipped myself when I saw a giant cardboard cut-out out of Darth Vader and an armed Storm Trooper. I walked between the new releases and hip-hop sections several times just to check them out. I was tempted.

But I can’t see myself doing something really dorky like buying a Star Wars t-shirt, or over-analysing the film like a character in a Kevin Smith movie. I saw the Star Wars trilogy and I enjoyed it. Now all I need is my own personal storm trooper.

Shirley and Juliet

I saw Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and goodness me, I really liked it. It was full of fun, excitement, action and good old fashioned mad, passionate love.

But there was one thing that I didn’t like. It was the song by Garbage on the soundtrack. What sticks in my mind is Shirley Manson sultrily singing “I would die for you”. I guess the connection is “Romeo and Juliet died for each other, the song says ‘I would die for you’, so that’s the connection”.

However, I don’t like the connection. Manson’s musings of “I would die for you” remind me not of the love of Romeo and Juliet’s love, but some rock chicks in a Bon Jovi video holding up a banner that says “We’d die for you Jon”.

That inspires the following scene in my mind. In a darkened room a Mr-Blond-from-Reservoir-Dogs type gangster person paces back and forth. In one corner of the room is Jon Bon Jovi, rock star, circa 1987, complete with mascara and permed hair. He is gagged, bound and tied to a chair. In the other corner is the rock chick, complete with mascara and permed hair. She is also gagged and bound. Mr Blond has already been torturing the two. He walks over to the chick and says, “So little missy, who’s it gonna be. You…or the rock star?” He removes her gag for her to answer and she screams out “Kill the fucking rock star!”.

But I digress. I get the feeling that Shirley Manson would not die for her man. She’d probably be screaming the same as the rock chick. But Juliet did die for her man. She took a weapon (gun or knife, depending on how modern you want to be) and killer herself.

Shirley talked the talk, but Juliet walked the walk.