Been & Going

FILE: Neil Patrick Harris To Host 2015 Academy Awards

[California Seething] Screw the Oscars Some More- Part II

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Hey- I bet you thought I forgot all about this and wasn’t going to write part 2. Ha! No such luck:

The “Best Performance That’s Going to be Totally Ignored Cause the Actor’s Not Playing Ugly or Crippled or Cal Seething- 022015- channingAutistic or Something” Award- Channing Tatum- Foxcatcher

It’s OK Academy Members- I get it. It’s not your fault. You’re old. Very, very old. Not like Grammy voter old but close. Your eyesight is fading, your hearing is shot and you’re so very tired. And who can blame you? You’ve worked hard! You’ve dedicated your lives to cynically churning out vacuous pabulum for the mindless consumption of the drooling masses and sucking each others’ egos off at awards shows. That’s exhausting even if you’re not dodging rape allegations!  It’s not even fair for us to expect you to thoughtfully evaluate a nuanced, carefully constructed, beautifully layered, multidimensional naturalistic acting job. That’s hard work- and you’ve got shit to do! You’ve gotta hit the early bird special at the Ivy (those who are tardy do not get fruit cup), accept your lifetime achievement award from the Douchebag Guild of America (DGA) and meet with your surgeon to delicately remove those last, pesky traces of your humanity (There’s no “I” in team and no “sag” in SAG). And as a result of this, you don’t want to see “acting”– you want to see “ACTING” you know- fake noses! Rapid weight loss! Beautiful people heroically diminishing their glamorous appearance so that they look like (gasp!) the rest of us! BTW- I don’t care how ugly you make yourself- it’s never “brave”.  Saving a cage full of bunny rabbits from a burning pet store is brave- gaining 20 pounds and not wearing make up is just fucking lazy. I mean, if being shulmpy was a feat of courage, I’d have the goddamn Presidential Medal of Valor by now-  hell I’m the motherfucking Chris Kyle of letting myself go to shit- but do I get any recognition Cal Seething- 022015- jenfor it? Nooooooooooooooo.  But Jennifer Aniston eats a piece of cake and they make a whole fucking movie about it (although- to be fair, she didn’t get nominated for anything, so my point doesn’t really make any sense. I just wanted to make a cake joke. I love cake! Cake anyone?)

And it’s nothing new- we all know the only reason Oedipus poked his eyes out was that Dionysus Award season was coming up and Sophocles was a total prize whore. He was like the Harvey Weinstein of ancient Greece- you should have seen the For Your Consideration ads for Antigone. Shameless.

Anyhow, my point here is that I don’t blame you guys for nominating two actors from Foxcatcher and ignoring the one who deserved it the most. But I do think you’re dumb. Really really dumb. I mean, Steve Carell is terrific as an unfunny Michael Scott with a Nicole Kidman nose job and Mark Ruffalo squints and drinksCal Seething- 022015- carellruffalo coffee like a young Olivier – but it’s Channing Tatum who straps this movie to his back and carries it like a piano up five flights of stairs only to get punched in the stomach when he reaches the top so that he has to walk down alone with nothing but bruises and the denim jacket he came with to show for his efforts. His role calls for no eloquent speeches, no flamboyant physical choices and only a modicum of histrionics. All he does, really, is turn in a deeply felt, grounded and utterly truthful performance. You know- no big. Just that little thing that every actor should aspire most to do above all else.  And, sure, I hear ya’ “Academy Award Nominee Channing Tatum”??? It’s like “Chief Justice Katy Perry” or “President Joe Biden” – but, hey- if they’re gonna recognize great performances- and, in particular, the performances in Foxcatcher, then ignoring Channing Tatum is just dumb. And I mean really dumb- like Anti-Vaxer dumb. Hey parents- listen- if you don’t want to vaccinate your kids – that’s fine. All I ask is that you just quarantine yourselves in some remote part of the country with all the other freaks and weirdos and never ever ever mix with normal people again. And, sure- I know that sounds awfully draconian- but I think you’ll really love Seattle! Plus- if you think you make dumb decisions- wait til you see the Seahawks offense! And what’s up with Republicans hoping on board the anti-vax crazy train? This is an idiot liberal thing, not an idiot conservative thing. Oh- I get it- it’s cause Obama said that vaccinations are good- right? Well- hey, I heard Obama said you shouldn’t drink drain cleaner- so maybe you should slug down some Drano and fucking die. You’ll have to name it something else, though- I mean, Drano does sound kind of Spanish- so….hey- maybe Freedom Cleanse. Yeah- that’s it- suck down your Freedom Cleanse assholes- cause every time a Republican dies, a climate scientist gets his wings.

“Why Would I Possibly Go See This Movie? Real Life is Depressing Enough”- Still AliceCal Seething- 022015-stillalice

Quick impression of the marketing guys for Still Alice trying to convince me to come see it:

Me: So what are you guys working on?

Marketing Guys: Oh- it’s this really great new movie called Still Alice.

Me: Oh yeah- what’s it about?

Marketing Guys: Well, it’s got a great cast- Oscar nominated actress Julianne Moore.

Me: I love her! So, what’s it about.

Marketing Guys: Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart….

Me: What an ensemble! So- what’s it about?

Marketing Guys: And it’s based on a bestselling novel that got really terrific reviews.

Me: Sounds terrific! What’s it about?Cal Seething- 022015- stillalicecast

Marketing Guys: Well. Uhm. See- Julianne Moore plays this really brilliant professor who’s married to Alec Baldwin and has this, like, totally perfect life until…you know…things go wrong.

Me: Wow! Sounds steamy! What happens?

Marketing Guys: Uhm…yeah…so, like I said…she has this totally perfect life with her sexy husband until she..uhm…well. Until she develops early onset Alzheimer’s.


Me: Uhm, Yeah- that sounds…really…interesting.

Marketing Guys: But it’s, like, totally life affirming and inspirational and surprisingly funny and….

Me: Oh…sure…yeah….sounds really…interesting.

Marketing Guys: So you should totally come see it.Cal-Seething--100714--punky

Me: Oh…absolutely….I’ll really try. I mean, I’m like super busy this month with work and Tu B’Shevat and Punky (PUNKY!) and everything…but- yeah- I’ll totally try to come…see it.

Marketing Guys: Great! It’s now playing….

Me: Yeah- so- I really have to…

Marketing Guys: Oh…sure…well…see you…

Me: Gotta go! (Cloud of dust. Hole shaped like me in the wall.)Cal Seething- 022015- hole

See, one of the great things about movies is their power to transport us to far away places- places that we could never go to otherwise: the far reaches of space, crazy hazy LA in the swinging 60’s, a grand European hotel at the precipice of it’s glorious decline. But why would I want a movie to transport me to the fascinating and exotic world of Early Onset Alzheimer’s???  What’s next? A fantastical journey into the magical realm of Diabetic Nerve Pain? Skin Cancer- The Musical? Osteoporosis on Ice??? (that one is particularly problematic and also awesome.) Shit, I don’t need a movie to transport me into the world of an Alzheimer’s patient- I’ve already got my worst anxiety nightmares for that (or, sadly, til recently, a quick flight to Albany.) And don’t talk to me about how good a movie it is or how well made a movie it is- hell, you can offer me first class seats on the Concorde with free champagne and a hand-job- but I ain’t flying to Buffalo (or, who are we kidding? Albany). Listen, if I forget where I put my glasses or can’t think of the Hebrew word for monkey I’m calling the Mayo Clinic for an emergency diagnosis, so as far as I’m concerned this isn’t a touching and heart-warming family drama- it’s a goddamn horror movie with Alzheimer’s as Freddy, Michael and Chuckie all rolled into one. Only instead of punishing teenagers for having sex, it punishes the Middle Aged for not being dead yet.

Best 3D Movie (by Default)- Goodbye to LanguageCal Seething- 022015- goodbye

OK- quick trivia question. What’s the coolest movie of all time?

Ocean’s 11? Not even close. Pulp Fiction? Getting warmer. The Lego Movie? You’re dead to me. No- the coolest movie- by far and away- is Breathless. I mean- come on- what’s cooler than Jean Paul Belmondo (which is French for “bad motherfuker”) cruising around Paris in a convertible wearing shades and smoking Galouises with his spunky, short haired girlfriend at his side and the Eiffel Tower in the corner of his eye as he dodges the law, imitates Humphey Bogart and philosophizes? Nothing. The answer is “nothing”. (also the best answer to give if Godard asks you “what’s the point of it all?” or “how do I make love last” or “why are there so many songs about rainbows- what’s on the other side?” cause he’s probably just testing to see if you’re cool- like really cool- cool enough to go get gelato with him. But not any gelato- really cool Parisian  gelato- like “Cigarette Ash Hazelnut Despair” or “Hopeless Huckelberry”.) Breathless has it all- casual sex, casual violence and casual existentialism. Naked people having a long sullen conversation that goes absolutely nowhere, groundbreaking cinematography, a press conference scene with a famous novelist cause why the fuck not- I’m Jean Luc Godard- bitch! What are you gonna do about it???? Plus – let’s not forget the coolest death scene of all time. Jean Paul Belmondo (French for “yeah- well, so’s your mother”) is gunned down while running from Monsieur Law- and as he lies on the street he looks up at his treacherous girlfriend he exhales a mouthful of Galouises smoke with his dying breath and says “bitch”….or maybe “puke” – nobody ever translates it the same way – but everyone agrees- it sure as merde ain’t “je t’aime”. But here, here, here- don’t take my word for it- watch this yourself. It’s OK- I’ll wait:

So- why am I talking so much about a movie that’s older than Barack Obama and almost as cool? Because that was a Jean Luc Goddard movie that I can actually describe – Goodbye to Language? Good fucking luck. Hell, even people who stayed awake the whole time have no idea what happened. Here’s Godard’s own summary- first posted as a handwritten summary on Twitter (which sort of nails Godard right there):Cal Seething- 022015- godardsummary

“The idea is simple: A married woman and a single man meet. They love, they argue, fists fly. A dog strays between town and country. The seasons pass. The man and woman meet again. The dog finds itself between them. The other is in one, the one is in the other and they are three. The former husband shatters everything. A second film begins: the same as the first, and yet not. From the human race we pass to metaphor. This ends in barking and a baby’s cries. In the meantime, we will have seen people talking of the demise of the dollar, of truth in mathematics and of the death of a robin.”

Now for some of you, this may seem to be a rather unorthodox use of the word “simple”- but those of us that are theatre professionals are very well acquainted with it as in: “it’s a very simple show. Bare stage, music stands, a couple of microphones, some simple hand props, very limited choreography, a three- maybe four piece band tops, just a couple of video screens, two tiny little pyrotechnic effects – barely more than sparklers really, one really short ninja battle on wires, and at the end, we just want the main character to very simply levitate over the audience out of a tiny little hole in the roof of the theatre and get picked up by a helicopter. That’s it. Very simple.”

And not only was it impossible to figure out what’s going on-half the time, it was impossible to figure out what to look at. Shots were overlayed on top of each other and split so that at time each eye was receiving a completely different image. As a result, my vision was often blurred and unfocused. I found the best way to deal with that was to look away form the screen and focus both eyes clearly on one point- like, oh, let’s say my watch so I could figure out just how much more time was left until I could get the hell out of there, and longingly speculate about how many steps it would take to me get the fuck out.

So, if it was so painful to watch, why am I saying that this is the Best 3D Movie of 2014? Well, I guess cause it’s the only 3D movie I saw in 2014. Actually- it’s Cal Seething- 022015- jpbelthe only 3D movie I’ve seen, ever- and frankly- I think that’s awesome:  “Oh- what- you don’t listen to music in your car- just NPR and Serial podcasts? And you- you don’t even HAVE a television- you just watch Portlandia on your iPad? Well, I’ve never seen a 3D movie- except Jean Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language. Now excuse me while I slap on some shades, fire up a Galouise and drop the mic- LE BOOM!”

And that’s the great thing about Godard. At 83 years old, he’s still the coolest motherfucker in cinema- and he makes you feel cooler just by watching his movies. I mean- dude makes one movie in 3D and totally changes the game, his cinematographer built his own custom 3D camera rigs, he cast his dog- and not like in a little cameo or something but as one of the leads- and the dog CRUSHES IT. If I didn’t already say Channing Tatum was the most overlooked actor- I’d give it to the dog. So what if I have absolutely no idea what happened, so what if I spent half the movie Cal Seething- 022015- dogasleep and the other half wondering if my glasses were broken, so what if I was such a 3D novice that when the “please put your glasses on now” slide came up with the 3D image of the revolving glasses I yelped involuntary and screamed “OH MY GOD- THEY’RE COMING RIGHT AT ME!!!” like a turn of the century Frenchman jumping out of the way of the oncoming train on the screen. This was a cool movie- and it made me feel cool. When I left this movie- I felt like John Paul Belomndo. An extremely confused John Paul Belmondo with a splitting headache- but, John Paul Belmondo nevertheless.

Actually, I have to give the credit here to my wife. It was her idea to go see this flick. Cause, let’s keep it real- left to my own devices- I wouldn’t choose to watch anything more foreign than House Hunters International. And while that might seem awfully superficial- there is nothing Godard could create which is more baffling and incomprehensible than a pair of bloated American rubes looking for a newly renovated apartment in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower, outdoor space, open plan kitchen and a man cave for under $500,000. Seriously you loathsome, entitled, cornfed morons- what the hell are you thinking???? Oh right- the answer is nothing.

“I Don’t Care How Good You Say It Is- There’s No Fucking Way I’m Seeing It”- BoyhoodCal Seething- 022015- boyhood

Yeah, yeah, yeah- I know it’s supposed to be sooooooooo good- but why would I possibly want to see it? Oh oh oh- so I can find out what it’s like to really grow up in Texas? I thank God every DAY that I don’t know what it’s like to really grow up in Texas. I’ve already had film and TV teach me everything about Texas that I could possibly need to know: The Ewings have all the oil, McConaughey has all the weed, and the Alamo has no basement- what the fuck else is there? And Richard Linklaiter is boring. But not in that super cool, ennui and cigarettes, Paris in the 60’s, mind bending narrative kind of way. More in the pseudo-deep college freshman, half literate psycho babble, shut the fuck up already kind of way.

Plus, if I don’t see how old Ethan Hawke has gotten- I can still pretend that I’m 25. Cause there is nothing pretty about Gen X at middle age- I mean, have you seen Janeane Garofalo lately? Reality done bit.

I Know, I Know, I Know- I Totally Have to See It- Just Haven’t Gotten Around to It Yet- GET OFF MY ASS – BirdmanCal Seething- 022015- birdman

OK- let’s get something very very clear.

I AM going to see Birdman.

Birdman is a movie that I plan to see.

On a list of movies that I intend to view, Birdman Is prominently featured.

Seriously- I don’t know how many more ways I can say it (seven?)- but I have absolutely every intention of seeing this movie. So you can stop telling me that Michael Keaton is one of the most underrated great actors of his generation and stop telling me how AMAZING Emma Stone is, and what a fine performance Edward Norton turns in and what a total directing genius Inarritu is and how I, as a theatre person, would especially appreciate it because I know, I know, I know and I am absolutely, positively going to SEE BIRDMAN- so you can STOP TELLING ME I HAVE TO. Because I’m getting pretty fucking tired of having this conversation every time I’m talking to someone about last year’s movies:

Me: …and that’s why anyone who likes Nightcrawler should be punched in the face.

Everyone: Wait- I thought that was anti-vaxxers?

Me: No, no, no- anti-vaxxers should all be infected with polio so I can sneak into the hospital late at night, unplug all their iron lungs and leave a note saying “At least you’re not autistic :)?”

Everyone: Oh. Right (long pause). So…what did you think of Birdman?

Me: Well, I…

Everyone:  Don’t you think that Michael Keaton is one of the most underrated great actors of his generation?Cal Seething- 022015- birdcast

Me: Uhm- well…

Everyone: And wasn’t Emma Stone AMAZING? And didn’t Edward Norton just turn in a brilliant performance?

Me: I suppose….

Everyone: And, of course Inarritu is a total directing genius.

Me: Well….

Everyone: I would think you, as a theatre person can appreciate it way more than I can!

Me: I guess

Everyone: So – what did you think?

Me: Well. Uhm. I guess. I mean. The thing is… I haven’t seen it.Cal Seething- 022015- ren

Everyone: You- WHAT?????? (Eyes pop out of head in the manner of a cartoon wolf with comical “aooogah” sound)

Me: Yeah- I mean… I’m going to….

Everyone:  Oh. You just have to. Michael Keaton is one of the most….

Me: I know.

Everyone: And Emma Stone- AMAZING. And Edward Norton….

Me: I know.

Everyone: And, as a theatre person, you would especially….

Me: I KNOW. I KNOW. I KNOW. I’m going to see Birdman. I’m going to see Birdman. As god is my witness in the motherfucking sky I AM GOING TO SEE BIRDMAN!!!!!

Everyone: Oh. (pause) OK.

Me: (breathing heavily. Face red): Happy now???

Everyone: Yeah. Sure. (pause) So….what did you think was the best 3D movie last year?

Me: (suddenly brightening): I’m glad you asked!

Now, at this point, gentle reader, you might want to ask- “So….hey…crazy person- why don’t you just watch Birdman?” And let me assure you- there’s a good reason- a VERY good reason why I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. And the reason is…I don’t Cal Seething- 022015- hhknow. I have Birdman. I’m excited to watch Birdman. I want to watch Birdman. I NEED to see Birdman. And yet- each night when the time comes to decide whether to watch Birdman or House Hunters I find myself, 20 minutes later, yelling
“Pick number 3, you loathsome fuckwits!! There’s outdoor space AND a  man cave!!!! What more do you want???” And Birdman goes unwatched for another day.

At this point, I’m terrified that there’s no way this movie can possibly live up to all the expectations that have built up- and that’s why I’ve decided to give my Movie of the Year Award to Birdman– not for the movie that was actually made, but to the unrealistically amazing one that’s been built up in my imagination. I just hope in the real one they keep the marshmallow fluff wrestling and that Keaton is HALF as good with a light saber. He’d better be, if he’s gonna do that thing where he cuts Boehner’s dick off and carves “Libertarianism is stupid” into Rand Paul’s forehead all in a single move.

OK- well, that’s it I guess. I give you my picks for noteworthy accomplishments in film in 2015- just 2 days before the Academy gives theirs and six weeks after everyone else in the world seriously stopped giving a shit. And you know what- I’m so inspired by finishing this, that I think I will watch Birdman after all- although- wait- oh my god- is that Tiny House Hunters I see? “Don’t pick number two, you hippie dingleberries!!! How are you gonna squeeze a man cave into a yurt????” Oh well, sorry Birdman. I Cal Seething- 022015- rbgguess I’ll never know what happens in the movie after Michael Keaton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg do a bunch of Jager bombs and then attend the State of the Union address only to sneak out afterwards to Clarence Thomas’ house to leave a flaming bag of equality on his doorstep.

Anyhow, I’d better watch it soon- cause after this Sunday, I’m gonna have to turn my attention to the movies of 2015. Fine original works of cinema like The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Insurgent, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. And what, do you ask, am I most excited to see in 2015? Well the answer, as ever, is nothing.

Although- wait- isn’t Furious 7 coming out this year?? Woo-Hoo!!! Oh, oh, oh, oh- you’re going to judge me now? I’m sorry- what was your favorite 3D movie of 2014, again? Yeah- that’s right. Le BOOM.

Cal Seething- 022015- furious

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