Me neither. Let's hold hands.
You know what I hate about Hollywood? The fuckin' phonies. Yeah, I said it. Fuck those guys. Everything they say sounds like it comes out of a script, you know? Like it's all planned ahead of time. And I'm sick of it! When I write, I write from the heart. Just brutal honesty. If that honesty is nonsensical and abrasive, I don't give a fuck. Truth hurts. Horse cocks.
I talk about a lot of serious shit in my columns, and today is no different. Today, we're going to talk about bad movies, and why they happen. Everyone knows that DVD commentaries, production diaries, and late-night celebrity interviews are only for the stupid, stoned, and old, respectively. And that's why they're so good. Because at these times, the celebrities let their guards down. Cracks and stretch marks form in the human-flesh-suit they wear over their cyborg-insect carapaces, and you can stare into the face of evil. If you're strong enough. Are you strong enough?
Me neither. Let's hold hands.
When The Lord of the Rings came out, it totally changed my understanding of what movies could be and why I should go to the theater. It means just as much to me as Star Wars means to people of the previous generation -- and like the original Star Wars, learning that it isn't real doesn't diminish the magic, because the effort that went into making each scene absolutely perfect actually makes the movie even more mythic. The extended-edition "appendices" found on the extended-edition DVDs are the gold-standard for special features, in my mind. Those are some of my favorite movies, and when you watch the interviews with the cast and crew, you can tell that they had as much fun making these movies as I had watching them. They also went completely insane, which should become totally clear in this video around the time the guy making chainmail starts threatening the gagged Smurf doll on his desk.
But now we're doing The Hobbit and ... I mean, it's pretty whatever, right? Those are all the words I wanna expend on those movies right now.
New Line Cinema
So, naturally, I checked out the special features, to see if they could explain why this movie is that thing it is and ... well, here are some quotes, taken totally at random, from the production diaries and "The Appendices" found only on the extended Blu-ray:
"This is a nightmare." -Peter Jackson
"I asked Peter Jackson if he was going to do The Hobbit and he said, 'No, I'm not interested in doing that.'" -Elijah Wood.
"[This movie] made me feel like I should stop acting." -Sir Ian McKellen
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Sure, all those lines are said as jokes -- but it's the only type of joke anyone is making. If you read between the lines, it's clear that the pre-production for The Hobbit was going great -- until Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hell Boy) had to leave. So much money was invested that Jackson had to take over despite not wanting to at all -- seriously, they mention how Jackson isn't interested in this series, like, 15 goddamn times. Which is probably why his motivational speech on the first day is delivered with the enthusiasm of a man who just found out he has to fumigate his garage:
"For a long time I thought that going back to the amazing experience of Lord of the Rings would be a good idea. But, ultimately, I've come around, because films are stressful and hard to make ... if somebody came up to me and said, 'You know, we can carry on pre-production for another six weeks,' I would just say, 'No, no, hell no, let's just start shooting.'"
This totally explains why these movies are so disappointing: Both Hobbit movies so far have been imaginative and almost good interpretations and expansions of the source material, but are held back by lazy visual effects (due to the shortened pre-production time that makes the level of care put into the first film impossible -- kinda like what happened with King Kong) and an apparent inability to edit out extraneous bullshit (because editing is emotionally exhausting, and Jackson looks like he's on the verge of tears in every scene he's in).
I mean, I'm still going to see the new one when it comes out. And so are you, don't fucking lie to me. But at least now we know why we're going to leave the theater feeling like our souls just went through a cheese grater.
Hey, you know how the Star Wars prequels suck? And then how the Lord of the Rings prequels are also pretty bad? And hey, ya know how the worst Indiana Jones movie -- The Temple of Doom -- is actually a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark? My point is, no one in the world could've predicted that Prometheus, a prequel to the Alien films, could've ended up terrible. But it is. And now, to understand why, I'm going to have to go right into the mouth of hell and listen to the writers' commentary.
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Prometheus is so confusing and disjointed that it just feels like a movie that was rewritten into oblivion -- and the writers' commentary track absolutely confirms that. It switches back and forth between Jon Spaihts (who wrote the first draft) and Damon Lindelof (who ruined it), and though they are in different rooms, they're both constantly talking about what the movie almost was and trying to justify the changes made, respectively. Between them, they say the words "in earlier drafts" over 800,000 times (I counted). Lindelof almost gleefully describes all the problems that Aliens fans will have with the movie, and then explains that he did that on purpose, because he doesn't like to answer questions in his screenplay. Which sorta gives me the impression that Lindelof doesn't know how screenplays work and also that an Aliens fan once killed his dog or something.
Dark Horse Comics
When I really love or really hate a creative person, I imagine a personality for them in my head, based entirely on the stuff they make. And the personality I created for Lindelof isn't terribly flattering: Because of Lost, I assume he's really pretentious but not actually smart; because of Star Trek Into Darkness, I assume he doesn't know what story structure or characters are; and because of World War Z, I assume that he hates me, personally. Now I know that all these things are true, because of the Prometheus commentary. So I just have to ask: Why do you hate me, Damon Lindelof? What did I do? What did I do?
The Twilight commentary is a thing to behold, and quite possibly worth the price of the Blu-ray all by itself. First off, Robert Pattinson is clearly as stoned as anyone has ever been, and Kristen Stewart is really excited to go do literally anything else. Director Catherine Hardwicke is trying to be serious for the first ... 15 minutes, at least. But she quite audibly gives up somewhere around this exchange:
Pattinson: Someone was talking about garden burgers the other day. Hayley, from Paramore.
Hardwicke: ... garden burgers?
Stewart: What did she have to say about garden burgers?
Pattinson: I can't remember, but I had never heard of them being called garden burgers before ... I think veggie burger sounds much more appealing. "Garden burger" sounds like something you found in the garden.
Hardwicke: Is Hayley from Paramore a vegetarian?
Pattinson: I dunno.
That's how a high man talks in front of a pretty girl. Look, I'm not a smart man. I don't have a lot of expertise in this world. But I have a lot of experience with being high in front of pretty girls and ... that's how you talk. It's the only way you can talk, and it's the only excuse any man has for bringing up garden burgers out of fucking nowhere.
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Pattinson's terminal case of fuckitallitude is infectious: Eventually, Stewart starts reminiscing about all the "acting" she was asked to do:
Stewart: It was like, "Kristen, look at this guy's feet, and then have overwhelming flashbacks that make your eyes flutter." Ooooookay.
Pattinson: What did you do?
Kristen Stewart: I had overwhelming flashbacks and made my eyes flutter.
Again, this shit is completely worth the price of the Twilight Blu-ray. Or at least I'm telling myself that, because I own this movie now. Does anyone wanna buy a Twilight Blu-ray from me?
Look, I get it. When Twilight first came out, I was right there on the front lines, man, hating the shit out of that book and writing goofy jokes about it for my college newspaper (because I was so, so cool in college). But, about a year ago, I had a revelation: It's not fair to judge Twilight as a story, because that's not what it is. It's just porn. It's emotional porn for girls. That's fine. I don't judge my porn by its plot or whether or not its hilariously, disgustingly sexist, so there's no reason people who enjoy Twilight should either. Besides, it's not like anyone's pretending it's a serious thing. Including the people who made it. So save your hate for something that deserves it, like people who give negative reviews to video games you liked.
Seriously, someone buy this Blu-ray from me, because if you don't I'm just going to keep watching the commentary over and over again forever, never get any work done, and be fired.
In Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, Patton Oswalt has a bit where he talks about what it really means to be successful as a comedian. He tells a story about being paid to do his act in front of a crowd so drunk that his mere presence is enough to earn a standing ovation, and how he received the offer to do that set (no new jokes, no material at all -- just free money) forever, and how now he has to live with "the pulsing door of compromise and success," because at any point he can stop writing jokes and just make money. I bring this up because, in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Sandler described a similar moment where he made the exact opposite decision.
In that clip, Sandler comes clean about something we've all suspected for quite a while: His movies are just the easiest excuses for him to take vacations: 50 First Dates, he explains, was originally set somewhere else, and when he suggested shooting it in Hawaii everyone thought that was a very "artistic" decision. From then on, he's just used his fame as a way to hang out with his buddies or entertain his predilection for cross-dressing.
And that's fine, ya know? I write all my columns wearing nothing but a rubber horse mask and a pair of Uggs I found in a dumpster, because that's what stimulates me creatively. "Bill Murray rubs cheesecake all over his chest before he shoots any scene," is a fact I just made up, because I wanted to compare myself to Bill Murray. So it's totally cool for Sandler to turn the entire latter half of his career into a cop-out, provided he's still delivering movies that are creative and interesting, right?
I'm gonna be honest. I didn't expect to get those kinds of numbers when I Rotten Tomato'd his filmography. I need to go lie down.
Look, I really love Quentin Tarantino movies, and I think most complaints about him are pretty stupid. You can say that real people don't talk like his characters, but that's also true of Shakespeare. You can say he overuses trunk shots, but I don't care, because trunk shots are awesome. You can say his movies are obnoxious and pretentious, and, like, yeah? That's why we like them. You can even say that he's ripped off everything he's ever created and ...
... well, I'm a big believer in parallel thought. I'm pretty sure that Home Alone didn't set out to be a retelling of Die Hard, but it still happened somehow. But Tarantino sometimes talks about how he stole the "Sicilians were spawned by n****rs" speech in True Romance (which he describes as one of his finest moments) from a guy who just thought he was having a conversation with his buddy Quentin, and it gets a bit weird. Then you find out that he cribbed Sam Jackson's "lay my vengeance" speech in Pulp Fiction from an old Sonny Chiba movie, and you start to get suspicious. And once you see him giving interviews like this, it becomes clear: Tarantino is kinda dumb.
In that video, Tarantino describes his first attempt at writing, which basically amounted to him memorizing and copying dialogue someone else wrote. For those that don't see the problem, that's not an attempt at writing dialogue. That's memorizing and copying dialogue someone else already wrote. I realize I just repeated myself, but I genuinely can't think of any other way to describe it. That is literally the opposite of being creative.
It's clear that Tarantino has no faith in himself. Look at this video we made over a year ago, that proves without a doubt that Tarantino is terrified of black people, and hastily throws on a disguise to try and pass as one of them:
God, can you imagine talking to this guy? Like, as a person? Would you spend the whole time worried that if you said something clever it would show up in one of his movies and film students would cream themselves over it? I don't know. Maybe this won't bother anyone. In this age of torrents and reblogs and slapping your name on top of other people's work, maybe no one actually cares if ideas aren't original. Maybe Shia LaBeouf is right. Sorry for bothering you guys with this. Tell me again how mind-blowingly original Inglourious Basterds is.