Pretty/Scary Review: Spike

“Spike” starts, as horror films often do, with a car crash along a rural road at night. But this particular car crash is no accident. Two couples traveling to an unnamed destination are halted by what looks like a steam punk accessory. No one is seriously injured in the accident, but after the lone dude goes to check out the tire damage, an unseen assailant attacks him. The gothic spikes he found in the tire are now sticking out of his throat and he’s bleeding out fast. The three remaining girls go into panic mode and try to figure out how to save their friend and just what the hell is going on…

Read the rest at Pretty/Scary!

NFT Radar: I Love New York Deli

I was raised on the East Coast, but I happily moved to Washington for college and never looked back. I’d never really understood all the complaining by New Yorkers about the lack of good delis and bakeries in Seattle. Different places have different things. But then the I Love New York Deli happened. I’d forgotten all about knishes, rugelach, babka, and piles of thinly sliced and cured meats on marble rye. But these guys haven’t. And they expertly deliver the goods to jonesing east coast ex-pats. It’s like a Seinfeld episode come to life. The staggering knish selection offers both sweet and savory options. They bake their own breads and bagels every morning. There are multiple options for lox and schmear. Breakfast is served daily till 11 and includes a bevy of Kaiser egg sandwiches. At lunch, every enormous, made-to-order sandwich is served with a big, crispy pickle. They also offer a small dry goods selection for those of you missing Stella Doro, Wise chips, and Chock-Full-O-Nuts, plus your typical pre-packaged kosher foods. Though I still love Seattle for its Seattleness, I apparently have plenty of room in my heart for the I Love New York Deli.


5200 Roosevelt Way NE 98105
206-523-0606
www.ilovenewyorkdeli.net

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

What Up With That?

It wasn’t long ago that SNL seemed promising. Of course, with a rotating cast, these things are absolutely cyclical. But when it was Maya Rudolf, Amy Poehler, Tina Fay and Will Forte, there were a lot of quality sketches. Any one of those people can pretty much do or say anything and make it funny. They also weren’t so much with the recurring sketches. And the characters that were recurring (Donatella Versace, the arrogant, one-legged chick, fucking MacGruber!) somehow seemed fresh every time. Now the funny ladies are gone, replaced by much less funny ladies and Kristen Wiig, who can be very funny, but not all the time. So far this season, SNL has been a real dud. They seem to be mostly falling back on recurring characters, mostly played by Kristen Wiig and those sketches are indistinguishable from one another, save the appearance of that week’s host. Seth Meyer is absolutely lost without Amy Poehler. Will Forte has pretty much been relegated to play the straight man (Gilly…GILLY…). Furthermore, Andy Samberg’s once fresh Digital Shorts are generally one-noted.

And then there’s the “What Up With That?” sketch. It’s Keenan Thompson playing a soul-styled host of a talk show called, you guessed it, “What Up With That”. The joke is that his theme song is so long and involved that he never gets around to talking to his high-profile guests, people like James Franco and Al Gore, who are brought in just to sit there and look annoyed and bewildered. It goes on way too long and it’s not terribly funny. BUT the song is extremely catchy.

I was just in the elevator with 4 young ladies on their way to lunch. For some reason, they were all discussing corndogs and they all agreed that corndogs are “gross”. “I like hot dogs. I like cornbread. But I just don’t like corndogs,” said one. “Yeah! I can’t rememeber the last time I even ate one. I was probably drunk,” said another. I didn’t know these people so I couldn’t chime in. But I think corndogs are terrific. In my head, the phrase “Corndog haters in the elevator” popped up. “What up with that?” And with that, I’d written a new verse of the annoyingly infectious “What Up With That” song. And now it’s in my head. Till the end of time.

See for yourself.

It always seems like the most obnoxious sketches are the ones that people remember. And the truly original, funny ones, get banished to obscurity. No one will ever remember the “Garden Party” sketch as well as they’re remember Penelope the one-upper or fucking Gilly. What up with that?

New Moon Backlash!

I absolutely expected some comments from pissed off Twitards for my scathing review of “New Moon”. Fanatics, especially young ones, can’t stand to hear opposing viewpoints on the things that are precious to them. If you have time, I recommend reading all of the comments, including some nice and thoughtful words in my defense. But one comment in particular ranks as the most emotional, off-topic and hilarious response to my writing I have ever come across.

Jessica Baxter, What follows will likely not make it to your blog [Ha! -JB]. In fact, it shouldn’t. Your entire review of New Moon is dark and angry. But I believe you were this way before you saw the film. Read the following 15 quotes from your review of the movie which is the tone of your entire review. Notice the slant of your focus. I don’t believe it came from the movie. I believe you’ve been carrying this around for a very long time. Take all of these quotes personally… “a story so rich with anti-feminist ideology.” “Bella-as-a-battered-woman interpretation” “been more comfortable staring directly into a stripper’s backside. I’m not even joking.” “drives older folks absolutely fucking nuts.” “Excuse me while I go have a panic attack.” “joy ride with one of the Port Angeles rapists.” “a cue to become an adrenaline junkie.” “save her stupid ass from” “bloodthirsty monster to homosexuality.” “seeing as how she has such a boner for men who want to hurt her.” “I was once a brooding teenager who dreamed of gothic romance.” “that Joss Whedon did for female empowerment.” “a slightly condescending and bigoted sauce.” “so much worse than the Backstreet Boys.” “and drink up the messages like poisoned Kool-Aid depresses the hell out of me.” Even the name of this site makes a statement… “Film Threat”. I’ve never heard of you before today. How many of your reviews are like this? How many dark movies do you “love”. Is it possible this is a general theme in the way you look at the world every day? Look at the bi-line of the name of your site. “Truth in Entertainment”. It is not uncommon for the damaged soul to take a smug attitude against the truth. And I think you know the truth is, what you write is simply opinion, nothing more. [Well, yes. That’s what a review is. -JB] You stand behind an attitude like this in order to hide your insecurity as a person. You pride yourself with your use of language. But Jessica, this review contains some very revealing clues to your unhappiness in life. The cruel way your were treated as a child. Being abandoned. [Actually, my parents never left me alone. I often wished they were more hands-off. -JB] Feeling alone, even in a crowd. Being misunderstood. Being exposed to things a child should never have to see or endure. [Like Catholic School? -JB] Your anger. The beatings. [Was I beaten?!…Oh my god…-JB] The bitterness. May I suggest you allow your therapist to read it from a professional point of view. It might help him/her help you. And keep writing like this, maybe in a more private setting. It can bring much of the buried anger to the surface where it can be dealt with in a healthy way. I’ve worked with people on these issues and worse for many years. You will likely respond with anger asserting that your observations come from a rational point of view. Defensiveness and denial are common in people with such a damaged inner child. Don’t just give in to it all. Don’t let all of this be your “excuse” in life for loneliness and loss. Let someone help. It will take courage, but it will be worth it. Please believe me. I will not come back looking for a response. This is not a topic for public discussion. [Then thanks for dragging my imagined personal issues out into a public forum, dickwad. -JB] This is not about me. Just a suggestion from one who sees the truth. And in this case, it has nothing to do with “entertainment”. Seye

I find it particularly interesting that Dr. Freud here a) doesn’t understand that I was, in fact, mostly joking and b) considers feminist ideology and not liking the Backstreet Boys to be a sign of mental illness. I wonder how he/she even came across the review in the first place since they had never heard of Film Threat and included the name and mission statement of an outlet I just work for as part of my analysis. What compels someone to write something like this based on a negative review of a popular movie franchise? Consider my mind boggled.

Also:

Film Threat Review: The Twilight Saga – New Moon

2009
Rated PG-13
127 minutes

0 stars

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the books. I only recently watched the first movie in the name of informed journalism because I knew that would be reviewing “New Moon.” I had a reaction that I didn’t expect. Based on what I already knew about what my favorite gossip blogger calls “Twitards,” I suspected that I wouldn’t love it. I knew about the abstinence “metaphors.” But I didn’t expect to find a story so rich with anti-feminist ideology. A quick Google search tells me that many a literary scholar has already touched on the Bella-as-a-battered-woman interpretation, so I’ll try not to rehash. But I will say that I absolutely agree with it and don’t see it so much as an interpretation as the only way to read the damned thing. The same Google search also tells me that the movies are very similar to the books. So I feel pretty confident in my understanding of the “Twilight” universe.

I watched “Twilight” at home with a friend. But my “New Moon” experience was with an audience. Dear god, the audience! Naturally, it was mostly female. Tweens and their mothers, divided into opposing teams of Edward and Jacob. They were so pumped for the movie that they cheered for the production company logo. They cheered for first appearances of their team mascots. They whooped whenever a male character appeared without a shirt. I felt like I was attending a Barely Legal Chippendales show with my young cousin and horny aunt. I’ve been more comfortable staring directly into a stripper’s backside. I’m not even joking.

I won’t really try to avoid spoilers because if you’re reading this, you’ve most likely either read the books and know what’s going to happen, or you’re morbidly curious and don’t really care. If you don’t want to be spoiled, consider this your warning.

“New Moon” opens with Bella, on the eve of her 18th birthday, having an anxiety dream about getting old while her immortal boyfriend, Edward, stays young. A legitimate worry, to be sure, but she follows it up with a declaration that she’s already old at 18. This is something that teenagers and people in their early 20s like to do, and it drives older folks absolutely fucking nuts. Bella is actually a pretty typical teenager in a lot of ways, none of them positive. She constantly ignores the sound advice that more experienced people give her, choosing to do the rash thing at every turn. She sneaks out. She makes ridiculous declarations like “I don’t really like music” just to sound rebellious. She treats the nice boys terribly, always opting to make time with the troublemakers instead. This is the shit that new parents worry about when they learn they’re having girls. And, for some reason, this character is serving as a role model for teenage girls all over the world. Excuse me while I go have a panic attack.

So anyway, Bella has a really eventful birthday. The possessive Edward has a scowl-off with Jacob, one of the many friends Bella has been ignoring ever since she got a boyfriend. Later, at Bella’s oddly formal birthday party, she gets a paper cut. This abruptly ends the festivities since half the attendees immediately want to eat her. After all this, Bella still doesn’t get what she really wants for her birthday: eternal life. Instead, she settles for a really awkward kiss goodnight from a guy who acts like he has history’s worst case of Blue Balls.

The next morning, with furrowed brow, Edward dumps her like one would a stray puppy. Literally. When he’s done, he actually leaves her in the middle of the woods and she just curls up into a whimpering ball until nighttime. She doesn’t belong in his world, he tells her. She’s not good for him. Considering how many times he’s told her that both he and his entire family would love to gobble her up like a bucket of fried chicken, he makes a valid point. And with that, the Cullens disappear from the town of Forks and from Bella’s life.

Brokenhearted, Bella immediately becomes a useless lump. So useless, in fact, that she doesn’t even try to find her way home from the woods and must be rescued by a shirtless fellow named Sam. (Can anyone tell me why no one, not even Bella’s dad, bats an eyelash when a half-clothed man walks out of the woods with an unconscious teenage girl? They just thank him and get on with their day.) After that, she sits moping in a chair for two solid months. Seriously. That’s a whole montage: Bella staring out the window while seasons change. Her dad tells her that he’s worried about her and her behavior isn’t normal. And guess what? He’s right!

Bella finally decides to get out of the house and that’s when the trouble starts again. After seeing a movie with one of her long-neglected friends, she goes on an impromptu joy ride with one of the Port Angeles rapists. As she straddles the bike, phantom Edward pops up like the angel on her shoulder to tell her that she’s being reckless. Instead of heeding his warnings, she takes this as a cue to become an adrenaline junkie. She decides that being haunted by Edward’s morality ghost is better than nothing. And then she selfishly drags the doting Jacob into her plan to be a moron.

Meanwhile, Jacob has his own problems. Shirtless Sam and his gang of equally shirtless cliff divers have been courting him to join their mysterious group. After an awkward third-wheel date with Bella and that nice blonde boy, Jacob flips out. Anyone who’s seen “Teen Wolf” recognizes this as werewolf puberty. The next time Bella sees Jacob, he’s a changed, shirtless man. Fortunately for her, he’s wolfed out just in time to save her stupid ass from evil vampires in Edward’s absence.

Bella takes this opportunity to become a complete and total hypocrite. “It’s wrong,” she lectures him about being a werewolf. “It’s not a lifestyle choice,” he retorts. “I was born this way.” Leave it to a Mormon to compare being a bloodthirsty monster to homosexuality. I bet Stephanie Meyer even thinks that’s a really open-minded viewpoint. Anyway, Jacob tells her they can’t be friends anymore because he could flip out at any time. By way of example, he points to Sam’s scarred girlfriend. At this point, I’m surprised Bella isn’t totally smitten with him, seeing as how she has such a boner for men who want to hurt her. But nay, she still prefers her predator boyfriends scrawny and sparkly.

And then Edward’s sister returns to tell her that Edward, believing Bella dead, now has a death wish of his own. It’s here that things really start to drag as Bella has to save Edward and then get saved about 100 more times herself. The girl really is useless. Also, Dakota Fanning is there. Of course, the audience is meant to think that this is all so romantic and sweet. Love against the odds. Romeo and Juliet. And the worst part is, most of the audience does think that.

As you can see, “New Moon” is not for me. It seems like it should be. I’m a fan of supernatural stories. I was once a brooding teenager who dreamed of gothic romance. But I absolutely hate what Stephanie Meyer has done. She’s reversed everything that Joss Whedon did for female empowerment. She’s taken all the sex out of the sexy vampire. She’s boiled the “inner demons” metaphor down to nothing, and dressed it with a slightly condescending and bigoted sauce. If you liked the books and the first movie, you will probably love “New Moon.” It’s going to make a ton of money and Stephanie Meyer is going to continue to be lauded and rewarded. I know that there will always be bubblegum pop for tweens but this is so much worse than the Backstreet Boys. This is, to borrow a phrase from the source material, a lion in lambskin. It’s intellectually and socially detrimental to both literature and cinema, simultaneously. The fact that so many girls will see this movie and drink up the messages like poisoned Kool-Aid depresses the hell out of me. But there’s nothing I can do about it. You’ve already picked your team.

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

Film Threat Review: The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call New Orleans

2009
Rated R
121 minutes

****

I haven’t seen the Harvey Keitel “Bad Lieutenant” from 1992 so I can’t really speak to whether Werner Herzog’s new film is a remake, a reimagining, or a whole new story with similar themes. I dislike remakes as a general rule, but in this case, I suspect it doesn’t really matter. “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a Herzog film starring Nicolas Cage, and both of these men are fully capable of putting their unique stamp on anything they touch. Hell, I couldn’t even be mad at Cage for remaking the “The Wicker Man” because his performance was so hysterically over-the-top. The beloved original film couldn’t have been further from my mind as he bounded around a pagan island in a bear suit punching old ladies. Nicolas Cage is a joy to watch, and Werner Herzog is a brilliant storyteller. It would really be hard to go wrong with such a winning pair.

After slumming it in a few roles, as he does every couple of years, Nicolas Cage returns to his top manic form as Terence McDonagh, a man who encompasses both good and bad cop. The story picks up in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina, where an inappropriately high-spirited McDonagh and his partner, Stevie Pruit (played by The Man Who Ate Val Kilmer), loot the lockers of their colleagues in a water-logged station. When they come across a prisoner still locked in a cell, the water rising all around him, McDonagh debates with himself for several minutes about whether or not he wants ruin his $50 underpants and make the rescue. This is our introduction to a man who is never sure who he will be from moment to moment. Eventually he does decide to jump into the sewage. This fateful decision results in a commendation and a promotion to Lieutenant as well as a back injury and a lifetime prescription to painkillers. Only McDonagh and Pruit know what a lucky break this actually was for him. To everyone else, he was selfless hero who showed unflinching bravery in the face of danger. This undeserving, yet undisputed respect is the reason he is able to become the Bad Lieutenant. It’s an origin story for a really fucked up accidental superhero.

Several years later, Lt. McDonagh has settled into a successful career as a functional drug addict, making the best of a city that’s never been able to put itself back together. He’s called to a murder scene where an entire family of Senegalese immigrants has been executed because the patriarch was dealing heroin on the wrong turf. This investigation leads to an incredible series of events, which threaten to unravel McDonagh’s structured chaos and expose his dark side.

Living up to his title, McDonagh does some pretty terrible things. Some of them are during his attempts to solve the crime, but many of them are just so that he can get his next big fix. He’ll do anything from pocketing weed during a raid to stealing from the evidence room to shaking down kids just for a hit off their pipe. Whatever gets him through the night; it’s all right. This is a man whose daily problems include needing to find some coke to counterbalance the heroin he’s accidentally just snorted. And yet, it’s impossible not to like him at least a little. He does follow a sort of drug-addled morality. He tries to help the people he cares about including his alcoholic father and his coked-up girlfriend/dealer (Eva Mendes, reunited with Cage in a sort of wacky “Ghost Rider” alternate universe). At one point, his good deeds find him on a road trip with a teenage murder witness and a dog. Through it all, his first priority is getting high and that tends to make his already sticky situations all the stickier. He never messes up when Big Brother is looking, though this may be more luck than skill. But it’s absolutely the reason he is able to carry on as he does for as long as he does.

Brad Dourif makes a delightful appearance as McDonagh’s amiably agitated bookie. It’s also great to see Jennifer Coolidge in a dramatic role for once and Fairuza Balk in any role at all. But these are just nuts on a Nicolas Cage sundae. The man is at his best when he’s playing a character at his worst. He is the affable fuck-up. It even earned him an Academy Award once.

Of course we must also give credit to the incredible direction of Werner Herzog, who successfully marries black comedy with noir. His “Bad Lieutenant” is like what would happen if Werner had Oliver Stone, Roman Polanski, Quentin Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers over for a mescaline hot tub party. Some people might think that sounds like a terrible evening. And maybe experiencing it first hand would be. But it sure is fun to watch.

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

NFT Radar: Meza

Maybe the space is cursed. Meza occupies what was once vegan nightmare, the Globe. Now it’s a tapas restaurant. Unfortunately, though the prices are reasonable (for tapas) and menu sounds promising, it’s just not that good. The sangria is only passable. The tortilla portions are so small that the waiter admitted they should be giving them away (and then, kindly, he did just that). The food is incredibly bland and uninspired. At $12, the Vegetales is nothing more than a glorified salad; a disappointing one at that. The corn cakes in the Arepitas resemble over-sized Communion wafers from both a visual and textural standpoint. I had to ask for a dish of salt to make it palatable. In fact, you’re going to need that dish of salt for pretty much everything you order. The only thing that works out is the Morrocoy Bocadillo (pulled pork sandwich). But there’s no shortage of good pulled pork in this town. You might as well patronize a place that also does other dishes well. It didn’t help our experience that the waiter took every opportunity to bad-mouth the food. Unfortunately, he was right about everything. Sorry Meza, but you’re kind of a mess-a.


1515 14th Ave 98112
www.mezaseattle.com

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

War of the Thermostats

My husband is trying to kill me. At least that’s how it seems as there is no other logical explanation for what he is doing.

Last winter, we argued over the thermostat. I wanted it to be at 72 degrees (which is the commonly agreed-upon “perfect weather” temperature), but he thought it should be at 68. He cited John F. Kennedy and played the “environmental” card. I wanted to compromise at 70 but he wouldn’t have that either. So I finally succumbed to his precious 68 degrees. And then summer came, and our poorly insulated house got all warm. While he complained, I was finally comfortable.

But now it’s winter again. So I turned the heat on to 68 degrees. I thought he would be happy. Bare in mind that I am still cold at 68. I still have to wear slippers and a sweater and my hands are still like icicles. But I was willing to let it go. Once we started living in the basement (where this IS no heat, mind you), he took it further by declaring that the heater should be turned off at night. He said that it was primarily because of the noise the furnace made. The noise didn’t bother me and I’m a lighter sleeper than he is but I still let him do it.

And then one day this week he got some bug up his ass about how even 68 is still too hot and turned the thermostat down to 66. 66! What the shit is THAT? When it’s 66 degrees outside, people still wear long sleeves. Personally, I would also bring a light jacket. To go OUTSIDE. This is our home. We live indoors. It’s supposed to be cozy. But it’s not. It’s freezing. And then he goes off to work (where I DOUBT it’s 66 degrees) and I work from home in my ice-cold basement. I tried to reason with him about it last night. I thought I got through to him. But after spending half the day wondering why I couldn’t feel my toes, I checked the thermostat and found it, once again, at 66 degrees. Of course, I turned it up immediately. But I’m sure he’ll just turn it down again. I don’t want to live like a passive-aggressive TV couple. I want him to understand that 66 degrees is not reasonable. It’s easier for him to simply take off a layer than for me to bundle up, drink hot tea all day, and work under a blanket.

I don’t want to play the fetus card, but HELLO! Fetus! All of my blood is in my uterus right now. And my uterus gets bigger and bigger every goddamned day. I’m colder than I otherwise would be. 66 is not going to work for me. I think I’ve been very lenient on this. I have never gotten my way nor had any of my compromises accepted. Well, I’m done trying to compromise. It’s got to be 68. No lower. If not for me, than for the warmth-stealing fetus. Unless he really is trying to kill me. In which case, we have bigger problems.

Film Threat Interview: Bobcat Goldthwait

Film Threat’s Jessica Baxter [Hey! That’s, me!] speaks with the pleasantly droll and endearingly self-deprecating Bobcat about his films, Catholic school, working with friends, teenagers and coming-of-age as a middle-aged man…

Bobcat Goldthwait is most widely known for his irreverent stand-up character: the awkward fellow with the self-described “Grover voice,” which he reluctantly carried over into several film roles. (He doesn’t actually talk like that. Really.) The indie film fan may also know him from cult film favorite “Shakes the Clown,” which he wrote, directed and starred in.

But these days, Bobcat has shed the Andy Kaufman-esque persona completely and resides behind the camera, directing his own scripts. 2006’s “Sleeping Dogs Lie” is a twisted, hilarious, yet extremely moving account of the repercussions of one woman’s youthful indiscretion. It also deals with family relationships and the idea that secrets are sometimes not only convenient, but completely necessary. The film was critically lauded but largely ignored.

Goldthwait followed up with the similarly themed “World’s Greatest Dad,” about a sad-sack poetry teacher (Robin Williams, a far cry from his “Dead Poet’s Society” character) named Lance. A single father, he plods through his day finding minimal consolation in his own writing and a secret affair with another teacher (Alexie Gilmore). Despite consistent failure, Lance unflinchingly attempts to reach out to his demonic son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara, “Spy Kids”), a porn-obsessed social reject with nothing but hate for everything and everyone around him. So Lance’s deceitful actions in the wake of tragedy make a kind of sense. No one could have predicted how badly his good intentions would miscarry. What follows is a witty reflection on how the general public deals with personal tragedy and how milking sympathy can backfire. This time, audiences are listening to the critics and awarding Goldthwait with long-overdue buzz.

I recently spoke with the pleasantly droll and endearingly self-deprecating Bobcat about his films, Catholic school, working with friends, teenagers and coming-of-age as a middle-aged man.

Because I live in Seattle, I love seeing the city on screen and I think it’s the perfect backdrop to a lot of stories. What made you decide to shoot “World’s Greatest Dad” in Seattle?

Um…it was cheap.

[Laughter]

You know it’s weird. It’s like usually people, when they make a movie and it’s supposed to be Seattle, they film in Vancouver and then they come to Seattle for a couple days….

Yeah. To shoot the Space Needle.

Yeah, exactly. So I was really tempted at the end of this shoot to shoot a couple exteriors in Vancouver.

[Laughter]

But you know I’m not from Seattle or anything so I wasn’t going to pretend that I was making the quintessential Seattle movie. It’s funny you said “Space Needle” because that’s one of the things I said when we were scouting the movie. I was like “I don’t want to see any shots…you’re not gonna see the Space Needle and there’s gonna be no shots of people throwing fish or shots of ferries going by and stuff like that.” Robin has fond memories of Seattle. You know, that’s, like, where he goes to work out material actually. Like at the Shoebox [cute nickname for the Showbox]. I just like the idea of making movies not in L.A. And a little bit in the back of mind was the movie “Harold and Maude.” But then I found out later on, that “Harold and Maude” was filmed in Northern California. I always thought it was filmed up in Washington or Oregon because of all the big pine trees.

Yeah. Our coastline is a little different.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was confused.

[Laughter]

Well, I definitely appreciate you not putting any of the cliché Seattle images in there. I think most audiences wouldn’t really notice [it was Seattle] unless they live here but [for locals] it’s easy to recognize the Guild 45th and Wallingford and places like that so it’s kind of exciting.

Well, it’s funny because that was something I thought about. Like I hoped the folks that lived there would get excited because for an outsider like me to go try and make, like, you know, “Singles 2” would be a mistake. You know what’s funny is that it played at the Guild so like you’re sitting there….

[Laughter]

Can you describe your writing process for “World’s Greatest Dad” and also for “Sleeping Dogs Lie”?

Yeah, the last two movies were kind of written the same way although I think “Sleeping Dogs Lie” was written…um…I was probably on the road doing standup. But that one was really fast. Like, I wrote that in 3 days and then “World’s Greatest Dad” was written in about 5 days. But each time I…I kind of have these ideas for different movies germinating in my head and then I go to a chain quality hotel and I try to write, like, a 2 page short story version of the movie and then I just sit down and write the movie. I write them really fast. But my detractors would probably say they wished I spent an extra day or two on ‘em.

[Laughs] As someone whose been working on the same screenplay for the last 2 years, I’m really impressed that you can crank something that great out in 5 days.

Oh, thanks. That’s really sweet. But you know I have plenty that I am very frustrated with, you know? I think these are easier to write fast because they’re kind of personal stories and then these other movies that I have…it’s been harder to finish em, you know? I’ve been working on a spree killer movie for a while and trying to get that finished. And I’ve been writing a musical based on a Kinks album.

Wow! Can you tell me more about that? That sounds amazing.

Uh…it’s a Kinks album that was in the 70’s. I don’t know Ray Davies and I had a meeting with him. And I really sweated a whole bunch when I was talking to him because I was such an idiot. And then he went and watched “World’s Greatest Dad” and he gave me the thumbs up to make it. He said, “Who would go see this?” because it’s an album and…it is a concept album. And it’s set in a high school and he said, “Who would go see this movie?” and I said “Well, all the kids that fuckin’ hate High School Musical” and he kind of smiled and I think that won him over.

I don’t think anyone in actual high school watches “High School Musical.”

Yeah I think its kids that aren’t in high school and creepy pederasts…I like to think it’s a creepy pederast as if there’s other kinds of pederasts.

[Laughs] The really sweet, amiable ones.

Yeah…the charitable pederasts.

So both “World’s Greatest Dad” and “Sleeping Dogs Lie” deal with secrets and their repercussions. And you’d mentioned that they’re personal stories. Does that mean you have a lot of experience dealing with the repercussions of secrets?

You know, I didn’t realize that either of these movies were so close to me until after I finished them. In fact some things about them I didn’t notice until I was watching ‘em or had other people point out who the people are in the movie. But um…you would think that I’m like this really…I think I am really nervous about people and things which is really strange because when you meet me I’m somewhat social. But I don’t have any deep dark secrets. I don’t know why I’m so terrified. I don’t know. I think it goes all the way back to…it’s almost like the fear of being called on in school. It’s almost like the same fear that these characters have. I don’t know.

Did you always sit in the back row?

Yeah, man. I never had my homework and if I did it was pretty poorly done.

So you went to Catholic school. Is that where your fascination with taboo subjects stems?

I think it really helped. It’s funny, you know, I brought up school and then you brought it up. Um…I think that, yeah, it’s a really weird thing to put into a kid that, you know, your thoughts can send you to hell, which is really crazy if you have an imagination. So, yeah I’m sure that’s where some of the stuff stems from.

Catholicism is pretty imaginative in and of itself. But I guess you’re not really allowed to deviate from that story.

Now, were you raised Catholic?

I was. And I also went to Catholic School.

Did you go the whole time?

Um…From 6th to 12th grade so a pretty long time.

Oh my god! Wow. Wow. Yeah…Tom Kenney whose Sponge Bob and I went to Catholic school together. Like, we met when we were 6 and we graduated high school together.

So he must have felt a bit of catharsis from being on “Mr. Show” after that.

Who, Tommy? You know Jill, his wife, too was on “Mr. Show.” They both showed up in little tiny roles in “World’s Greatest Dad.” But being around them and filming with them, because I do see Tom and Jill a lot now, made me want to work [with them] on a bigger scale.

You used a lot of great supporting actors like Toby Huss (“King of the Hill,” “Carnivàle”). Are they all your friends or are they people you admired and wanted to work with?

Most of ‘em are my friends. Like Toby…I just got off the phone with him. But most of ‘em are my friends. Like, Morgan Murphy is another friend of mine and she shows up in the movie. I work with a lot of friends who are talented. Cause I do have friends that don’t have talent so I don’t put them in the movie. But I wish someday I could write like a really big Robert Altman movie so everybody could be in it together. Because I really think Alexie’s really great who was playing against Robin and I also think Melinda [Page Hamilton, “Sleeping Dogs Lie”] was really great in the last movie. I wish I could write a bigger movie and be able to work with everybody.

You mentioned that people had pointed out similarities between the characters in your movies and people in your actual family. So are any of your family members mad at you right now?

No…during “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” it was actually at the Toronto Film Festival, my older brother Tommy actually passed away since then…but we were watching “Sleeping Dogs Lie” at the Toronto Film Festival and my sisters were there with me and in the middle of the movie my sister leans down and she goes “Tommy’s gonna kill you”. I do borrow a lot from people I know and sometimes from my own life but not necessarily the events. Like I don’t know anyone that experimented with bestiality or auto-erotic asphyxiation. It’s more like I kind of write with people that I know in mind and how they would react to certain situations.

You’ve said that you didn’t have Robin Williams in mind when you wrote “World’s Greatest Dad” but that when he read it he told you he wanted to play Lance. What specifically drew him to that role?

You know what I did find out that I didn’t know initially was that he was reading it because he thought he’d help me out and play a small role. Like he would play a small role and help me get the movie financed. But…I don’t know what drew him to it. I do know that he liked the other movie a lot. I do think that the character is very similar to both he and I where as middle-aged men we kinda had to grow some balls and change our lives a lot. And this movie is a coming-of-age story, for me, of a middle-aged man. You know, usually when you see a coming-of-age story…usually the cut-off point is mid-twenties. But sometimes it takes some of us a lot longer to grow up.

Kyle is kind of a nightmare kid with no redeeming qualities. Where did the inspiration for his character come from or was that just necessary to make the plot work?

I think a lot of it was necessary to make the plot work, that there was nothing redeemable about him at all. It was exactly what you hit on. It was to make the plot work. But the funny thing is that even though the character is so horrible, I think Daryl is such a strong actor that people still were kind of drawn to him. Kinda just before he uh…well, at this point people know what the movie is about…Just before he dies I think people start warming up to Daryl’s character which is pretty funny.

Yeah, that definitely happened to me. When he’s giving his dad the pep talk to hit that shit.

[Laughter]

But also, he’s kind of right when he calls out Miss Reed as being a phony. Is there purposefully a little Holden Caulfield in there or was that a lucky guess on his part?

You know, I don’t know why I wrote that. But it is a little Holden Caulfield. I don’t know why we wrote it and I don’t know why it’s in the movie but for some reason it actually kind of works. It’s kind of weird that he is perceptive. I think when I wrote it I kind of thought of it as he hates everything. But for some reason it does work when he is that perceptive about that.

A lot of people had friends in high school that they didn’t particularly like but they hung out with anyway. How did Kyle and Andrew become friends?

I think Kyle is horrible and invisible to most of the school. Like if they did know him they hated him. But I think Andrew actually has no friends because he’s really kind of shy. That’s what I had in mind in my head. I don’t think he’s, like, a bad kid. I just think he’s super painfully shy. So I think that it’s almost out of necessity that he hangs out with Kyle because he is the only person that will give him the time of day.

Would he have stayed friends with Kyle or eventually moved on?

I hope other people would learn to appreciate Andrew and he would start getting different friends.

When you first became a father, did you worry that your kid would grow up to be someone that you didn’t like?

Sure. Yeah. You know, your biggest fears…[laughs]…I don’t know. Uh…none of the things that I worried about with my daughter came true. Your biggest fears are that they’re going to be a drug addict mess or some kind of whore or something like that.

[Laughter]

And then the things you never see coming are the things that come true. But it all ended up OK. I think the biggest mistake people make…and I’m not breaking any ground by saying this…but I think the biggest mistake is people who…well, it’s really common in L.A. where people want to be considered the cool parent or the hip mom or the friend of the kid. And I never, never wanted that. My only expectation was I was trying to be a good dad, hopefully. And now the bi-product of that is my daughter and I are actually really good friends. She shot the making-of behind the scenes of the movie and stuff so…I was really happy that they came out well and Magnolia bought it and put it on the DVD. Cuz I didn’t give her any notes. It’s very cool. It’s kinda DIY. It captures the feeling of what it was like to be on the set.

Is she working on becoming a filmmaker too?

Yeah, yeah! She just got a job. She’s in Massachusetts working with an Irish television company and they’re doing a series on the Kennedys so she’s working in the camera department on that.

Do you think you’ll work together again and maybe collaborate on a bigger project?

Oh, of course. Yeah, yeah.

You’ve said that you’re most comfortable when you’re making people feel awkward but your last two movies seem to be about finding the relatable in uncomfortable situations. Do you perhaps have a secret desire to make people comfortable with the taboo or would you be disappointed if you could no longer make people feel weird?

[Laughs] Well, I’m not trying to make people feel comfortable with the taboo because I don’t want…I’m not asking for acceptance of bestiality or these topics. I think they’re just tiny things in the story. And what I’m really asking of people is…these movies are really about kindness and acceptance. Although I do think everything is pretty dark. And the older I get I realize I have less and less in common with people. I used to think I had a lot in common with everybody. And then I realized I have less and less in common with people. I don’t know why I’m being so honest right now, but yeah. It’s funny…in our culture athletes are really considered more important and I was thinking about how, like, if a kid dies in school and he was on a team, they’ll go, “It’s such a shame he died. He was such a good student. He was a really great athlete.” And they never go, “It’s such a shame he died. He was a really good student and he was great in drama.” As if your kid is into anything other than sports they’re less than, you know? So the older I get, I think the audience I’m reaching out to is a lot smaller.

As someone who feels pretty much alone in not following organized sports I completely relate. I’ve had to learn to tolerate some sports just because they’re always on and my husband and friends are really into it.

I know. It’s a really weird thing about our culture. Here I am now a middle-aged guy and I’m identifying the different things in my life that I don’t…I’m like, “Oh boy, jocks really do ruin everything.” It’s just weird because as a comedian I had popularity and now I’m realizing that I didn’t have a lot in common with a lot of people who have been paying my bills all these years.

[Laughter]

So, I absolutely loved “Sleeping Dogs Lie” but I’ve had a hard time selling it to other people just based on the plot description. And it seems like the marketing department had similar difficulties in light of the title change [from “Stay”] and the misleading cover art. How would you have marketed it differently?

Well, the title had to change because there was a Mark Forrester film named “Stay.” And I wish it stayed the other name. But there’s two different covers. And one makes it look like a porn movie.

Yeah, I think that’s the one I have.

There’s like, a hot piece of ass and a drooling dog and every time I see that I get so upset. I have one fantasy, which is that if I ever was a successful filmmaker that people would go back and try to put a more accurate DVD cover on that box. And what I think is funny is that image, the shot between the woman’s legs, is on a million DVD covers. It’s the equivalent of the guy peaking over the sunglasses in the 80’s. There’s a ton of people with that artwork. But I do believe it’s hard selling these products. There’s two things…Well, there’s a couple things. One: it’s got my name involved, so I come with some baggage. The people who are familiar with me think “Police Academy” and all that kind of crap. And then if you hear about these topics I think you think they’re gonna be broad and silly comedies or outrageous slob comedies and then they’re not so it’s really hard.

I think that’ll change with all the buzz that “World’s Greatest Dad” is getting.

Well, I hope people go back and give “Stay” a shot. That would make me happy.

Do you think that people are responding more to “World’s Greatest Dad” because of the themes or because of Robin Williams? What do you think they’re responding to as opposed to “Sleeping Dogs Lie” which was well reviewed but definitely didn’t get the same kind of buzz.

Of course I think Robin’s attachment helps make it more accessible for folks. I think it’s funny that Alexie, who was in “World’s Greatest Dad,” didn’t see “Sleeping Dogs Lie” and then she called me up crying. She was like [mock sobs] “I just watched that movie…”

[Laughter]

You’ve indicated that you’re kind of over acting and stand-up and have referred to them as more of a paycheck than an artistic outlet at this point. Do you think you’ll ever find a passion for them again?

I will say that I do have an interest in stand-up again which has to do with the fact that I just kind of told myself that even though it’s a very dependable crutch that I had to jettison the character and the persona that people know me for. So I’ve been doing sets going up as myself and that makes it a little more interesting again. Because it’s the first time that I’m nervous and working on it so that’s exciting. Acting? No. I think I’m a pretty bad actor. I think I’m pretty corny. So I really want to concentrate on writing and directing and those two things…That’s really what excites me a lot right now…I was really phoning it in for many years is what I’m saying.

[Laughter]

You’ve often joked about giving up on creativity and making movies with Kate Hudson. Is her brand of romantic comedy the pinnacle of bad cinema for you?

It’s just like…her as my go-to bunt of what I consider everything wrong in movies is that…I don’t know what it is. There’s just something that’s super insincere about it that drives me crazy. I’ve always been waiting to hear from her people. Or to run into her in a Whole Foods grocery store and have her pissed off and say, “Why do you make fun of me?”

[Laughter]

[Pause]

Well, that’s all the questions I have, actually.

[Laughs]

I’m sorry I couldn’t think of anything better to end on.

Well, I’m really trying to just finish up some more screenplays and get up and started all over again. That’s what my goal is.

I’m excited about the Kinks movie. That sounds terrific. I think there’s a need for more edgy musicals.

Yeah, I’ll see if I can pull it off. I really hope I can con somebody into giving me money to make it.

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

Pretty/Scary Review: Consumption

Consumption is inspired by the true story, so says the opening credits. And I think I recall they story they are referring to. Craigslist is good for many things, not the least of which is experimentation. Sometimes that experiment involves finding out what it’s like to eat someone. And sometimes it involves finding someone who is willing to eat you…

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