Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Awesome or Not?: Matthew McConaughey

My buddy Ed suggested that I start a new feature on here where I pick an actor or filmmaker and then through close examination of their career decide whether they are awesome, or not.

For my first go at this I decided to examine the career of Matthew McConughey, an actor whose first major role, that of David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, was inarguably his most awesome. Really, it was all downhill for him after that.

Lonestar was pretty great. A Time to Kill, Frailty... those were both at least kind of awesome, but how can we be asked to excuse Surfer, Dude, or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Wedding Planner, Fool's Gold?

Personally, I can't excuse them. I don't care how awesome his dragon-killing beard was in Reign of Fire, aside from Tropic Thunder it's been almost a decade since I've been interested in anything this guy's put out.

Matthew McConaughey = Not Awesome

This one was pretty much over before it began. Next time I'll try to pick someone who has a better shot at everlasting awesomeness.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Room!!

Last Friday night I had the privilege of attending a midnight screening of The Room at the Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline. The film's enigmatic director/writer/producer/executive-producer/star Tommy Wiseau was in attendance for a Q&A session pre-screening and an autograph signing after the film. The big surprise of the night was that Tommy brought co-star Greg Sestero along with him.

For those of you unfamiliar with the cult-phenomenon that is The Room I suggest you check out the wikipedia entry on it, HERE.

The gist of it is this: made in 2003, The Room, a melodrama about a doomed love triangle, is considered the "Citizen Kane of bad movies." Everything about this film, from the atrociously inept acting and dialogue, the strangely un-erotic and gratuitous sex scenes, the bizarre use of green screen, the characters and sub-plots that are randomly introduced and then dropped, will leave you scratching your head, wondering how it all came together in the first place. After an initial theatrical run in L.A where it grossed a total of $2,000 and had audience members literally rolling in the aisles laughing at how terrible it is, Tommy decided to re-market the film as a "black comedy." Eventually the film began to find an audience at midnight screenings around the world and is now well on it's way to becoming this generations Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Here's a scene from the movie:

This movie is terrible beyond compare, but I defy you to look away from it. It's like a train-wreck, or a Michael Bay film. You don't want to watch, but you can't help yourself, you have to keep watching in order to see exactly how horribly it will turn out. Watching this film is a truly bizarre experience, while watching it you feel like you're looking at something that can't possibly exist, something that must be a huge joke, but it's not. I don't know how else to explain it, other than to say that watching this film with a passionate crowd of die-hard fanatics is truly a singular experience.

So, read that Wikipedia article that I linked to above, go to youtube and watch the film's trailer, and as many scenes as you can find. When you're done with that, if you're still intrigued, go HERE to read one of the best interviews ever conducted with Tommy Wiseau, who looks like a cross between Sylvester Stallone and The Scarecrow and has an accent that's completely unidentifiable. His origin is a complete enigma. Whenever questioned about his Nation of origin he simply says that he is an American and refuses to discuss the topic with any candor. AMAZING.

This is truly one of the more bizarre and intriguing cultural phenomenons in recent memory. If you have the opportunity to check out a midnight showing, especially one where Tommy will be in attendance, do it. I know I plan on going again the next time Coolidge Corner has a screening. Hopefully I'll see you there.

The Movie: 0 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

The Experience: 11 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Exactly how did Tommy Wiseau come up with the six million dollars used to fund The Room?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LOST 6x12

"Everybody Loves Hugo."

It's true. I think that one of the only universal truths accepted by all Lost fans is that Hugo "Hurley" Reyes is nearly 400 pounds of pure awesomeness.

For six seasons Hurley has brought to this program some much needed levity and comic relief. He has often acted as a sort of bridge between the show and its viewers, expressing confusion over the things that we, watching at home, are confused about, asking the questions that we most want answered.

Hurley has exhibited great moments of heroism, remember when he came crashing down in the Dharma van, just in the nick of time, Han Solo style, to save the day during the season three finale? And heart-wrenching humanity, delivering eulogy upon eulogy for nearly every deceased cast member, back before things got so chaotic, when they used to have time to bury their dead.

Despite all of this, one thing that Hurley has never really come across as, for me at least, before tonight, is "real."  

I'm not completely sure why. Maybe it's because of his enormous size, and his jolly good-naturedness that goes with it. Maybe it's because of the way his giant man-boobs bounce up and down when he runs. Maybe it's because of how often it seems like his character is nudging and winking to the audience. It could be because his father is portrayed by Cheech Marin, and his mother is such a typical, over the top Latino stereotype.

None of these things have ever stood in the way of me enjoying his character immensely, but they have combined to prevent me from ever taking ol' Hugo too seriously. Earlier this season, when it was revealed that Hurley's name was on the list of potential "candidates" to take over for Jacob as the custodian of the island, I immediately dismissed him as a viable possibility. He's just on there because he's such a fan favorite, I thought, clearly this is going to come down to Jack and Sawyer. After tonight's hour, I'm not so sure.

I feel like Hurley has finally come into his own. The flash-sideways scenes with him and Libby were excellent. Seeing Hurley exhibit some confidence, and not always relying on someone to tell him what to do next is a great thing. I know Hurley didn't act completely on his own tonight, he had Desmond and Michael guiding his actions, but still, he definitely exhibited more leadership potential than I would have thought likely from his character. I never thought that we'd see Jack following Hurley around the island on a crazy mission.

Is Hurley the next Jacob? I'm still not ready to believe that Jack has just been a red-herring this entire time (JACk and JACob have the same three letters! It HAS to be him), but I am now a lot more willing to accept this as a possibility.

OH, Desmond hit Locke with his car. HARD.

I can't wait for next week.

5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans


Let me just start by saying that I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

This is Nicholas Cage's best performance since his Oscar winning role in Leaving Las Vegas. This may in fact be Nicholas Cage's best performance ever. I'm actually having a hard time with the fact that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this movie, his performance is absolutely the best that I have seen in any film this year, without question. Maybe the Academy members would have felt too grimy voting for Cage in this role? I really don't know.

I'm not surprised by the lack of commercial success that this film had at the box office. This movie is vicious, raw and gritty with a protagonist that, on the surface, is utterly despicable. I'm not going to go into spoilers for this movie, because I'm sure most of you reading this haven't seen it yet, and you really should, but I'll just touch on some of the basic plot elements.

The film is set in post-Katrina New Orleans and features Cage as a cocaine addicted, degenerate gambler, police Lieutenant who is dating a prostitute played by Eva Mendes. When an entire family of illegal immigrants is murdered it hits Cage hard and a whole lot of absolute crazy awesomeness ensues.
Nick Cage's performance as the titular "bad lieutenant," Terrence McDonagh, is brilliant. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that already, but it really bares repeating. Cage is always at his best when he's playing a character who is slightly unhinged (he really kind of sucks as a straight man..) and here, under the amazing direction of Warner Herzog, he plays a character who is balls-to-the-wall crazy. McDonagh isn't actually so much a "bad cop" as he is a completely insane one. This isn't to say that he's "good" either, but he does seem to have some type of morality driving him. He's actually a thousand times better, as a human being, than his complete scum-bag partner, awesomely portrayed by Fat Val Kilmer, whom I greatly enjoy and hope that we see a lot more of in Hollywood in the years to come.

This movie isn't perfect. The story is at times predictable and the ending is going to piss some people off (I loved it), but I haven't stopped thinking about it since I saw it two days ago. Somebody please call N.C's agent. I want Nicholas Cage to only accept roles like this from now on. His career will soar to heights he never dreamed possible.

See this movie.

4.5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LOST 6x11

Just got back from watching Lost at Cinema Salem. I feel bad that I have yet to publicly address the fact that there is a theater in Salem, MA that shows Lost on the big screen every week. For free! How awesome is that?

If you aren't already checking it out you should show up next week. Get there early because it tends to draw a near capacity crowd.

And how did this near capacity crowd react to tonight's Desmond-centric episode, "Happily Ever After?" They seemed to love every single moment of it, and I did too.


The scenes with Desmond and Charlie in the bar, and Des and Chucko in the hospital, while good, went on a little too long for my liking. That's probably because at this point in the season, with only 7 (seven!) hours left after tonight, I'm not sure that they have a minute to spare.

But, I would say that atleast 35 of the 42 minutes of tonight's episode were rock solid. I mean, friggin' Faraday showing up and offering the closest thing to an 'explanation' of the LA X universe that we've gotten thus far? Awesome. Desmond surviving an "electromagnetic incident" completely unscathed? Also awesome. Desmond's scowl when Widmore tells him that he's back on the Island? Double awesome. The idea that love transcends dimensions...I don't care how much of a cynic you are, when Desmond and Penny reunited at the stadium it gave me goosebumps, and if it didn't warm the cockles of your heart at least a little bit, then you have no business watching this show.

How does Eloise Hawking know so much in this reality? How much does she really know? Is Desmond now going to beat everyone on 815 to within an inch of their lives so that they too can each have an epiphany?

I don't know!

Creepy, apathetic, infected Sayid is so badass.

Next week's episode is titled "Everybody Loves Hugo," and in honor of Hurley I'll be having fried chicken with the usual crew before we head down to the theater. 

I can't believe that in less than two months this will all be over for good. I need a new show to obsess over.

Preferably one that doesn't suck.


5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter. Obviously. Desmond rocks.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Douchebag Celebrity Encounter: Jamie Kennedy

The other night I found myself in the presence of greatness.

Let me begin this piece by saying that I have a good understanding of proper etiquette for celebrity encounters. I understand that celebrities do not like being approached by fans when they are out relaxing. It gets tiring when people are constantly harassing you for autographs and photographs and all you want to do is knock back a couple of drinks with your friends. I have ascertained, through my own various celeb encounters, as well as reading about and listening to the anecdotes of others, that anything beyond a quick wink, head-nod or wave, can make you a nuisance.

Ninety-nine percent of the celebrities out there will happily return your winks and head-nods with a smile on their faces. However, there is a miniscule fraction of the celebrity populace that is made up of individuals who are so magnificent that they transcend humanity in their awesomeness. I refer to these deity-like beings as the "mega-celebrities."

This past Friday I was out enjoying the evening with my lovely wife, Lola Cutter Hensel, at a local drinking establishment here in Salem, MA called Tavern in the Square (TITS). We were there for no more than twenty minutes when our phenomenal waitress, our friend Sarah, informed us that perhaps the most mega of all mega-celebrities, Jamie Kennedy, was in the restaurant, seated a mere two tables behind us.

Mr. Kennedy had performed a much publicized stand-up comedy show earlier that evening at Salem State College, so I was not surprised to see that he had found his way to TITS afterward, it being one of the largest and "hottest" bars in town.

Despite the fact that this devastatingly handsome A-lister was seated at a booth in Sarah's section, she opted to pawn him off on another server. This is because it can be extremely awkward to wait on a celebrity, especially when the celebrity in question has co-starred in such unforgettable Hollywood classics as Son of the Mask, Scream 3 and Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey.

Sarah also must have had her husband in mind when she decided not to wait on this legendary Hollywood player. Certainly she realized that if she were to approach The Jamie and take his order that she would have been overwhelmed with adulterous temptations; by avoiding him altogether she was able to finish up her shift and return home with the sanctity of her marriage still intact.

During the hour or so that Lola and I were at the restaurant we only witnessed The Jamie being approached once. Two foolish girls, who were so naive as to not realize the inappropriateness of approaching such a sacred and powerful being, wandered over to his table giggling like morons. They were quickly sent on their way, and no one dared to approach the table after that.

It must have been out of pure fear and respect that everyone else in the entire restaurant completely ignored him for the rest of the night. What could possibly be the alternative? That no one recognized him, or cared about the fact that he was there?


After Lola and I decided that it was time to leave we paid our check and headed for the exit. I had made the decision that upon passing Mr. Kennedy I would give him a wink and a nod. I know what you're thinking, this is highly inappropriate behavior. This is the type of thing that human-beings do when seeing each other. I had no business attempting to commit an act of cordiality with a mega-celebrity. Well, as we passed his table I became overwhelmed, and instead of my sly wink, I gave a bit of a wave and a smile. Mr. Kennedy responded by rolling his eyes, and mumbling "what's up man?" and then turning away.

He was right to roll his eyes at me. How could I have possibly been so foolish to expect any other response?

When I got home, once I finally stopped crying, I decided that maybe I was wrong about Jamie Kennedy. That despite the fact that he starred in Malibu's Most Wanted, maybe he wasn't the world class modern day Lawrence Olivier that I had made him out to be, maybe, in fact, he was just a complete and total douche, a poor man's Seth Green.

I went to the computer, intent on discovering that he was a loser who hasn't accomplished anything worthwhile in the past five years. A quick internet search led me to a profoundly troubling fact. Jamie Kennedy, a Hollywood C-lister, a dickhead who can't bring himself to return a wave, is dating Jennifer Love Hewitt, a woman who at one point in my life I would have committed murder to be with. Apparently, he is her co-star on a show that I have never seen called Ghost Whisperer. He must be at least kind of cool to land such a hot girlfriend.....

And this is why I am happy that a case of writer's block prevented me from finishing this piece for an entire week: It has just been announced that Jennifer and Jamie have split up "amicably"!!!!

Amicably my ass.

Maybe if he had returned a wave or two without rolling his eyes at people they'd still be together.

Jamie Kennedy, you sir, are a giant douchebag.