Although life in Russia is constantly full of surprises, for the eXhole, there is at least one predictable feature to our lives: shitty English-language movies opening in local theaters, week after week after miserable English-language week. This might have been a further source of pain if not for the fact that we now have options. I'm speaking of course about the 24-hour live war coverage on CNN and BBC, which, if you don't have satellite or cable TV, are shown at both Starlite Diners. Those long, slow scenes of battle unfolding, the crackling of gunfire, the clumsy Terminator-like movements of the Abrams and Bradleys, will provide you with enough entertainment to make you forget the worst chick flick. Dead Iraqi civilians sacrificed by America's Army of Liberation will work like a balm on your guilty bourgeois conscience: Middle America has come out of the fascist closet and admitted straight up, they just don't give a fuck about human life. So how can they judge me for being "immoral" or "nihilistic"?
Of course, all that war viewing can cause what American psychologists are starting to call "war fatigue" for Middle America viewers. That's a euphemism for, "Oh shit, this war is going badly!" because everyone expected to watch a quick ass-stomping the likes of which even God has never seen. It's pretty depressing to watch the once-invincible American military machine come up with more excuses than a tardy junior high school student to explain away why they aren't slaughtering Iraq's sorry ass back to the Old Testament. Sure, it makes the war more interesting to watch if you're the type who likes unpredictable endings. But if you're an American, then frankly, no, you don't like unpredictable endings. You paid good money for this war to have a predictable plot and end! The people demand a thorough, quick, consequence-free ass-kicking, right?
No matter where you stand in the war debate, you're going to need a little break. So what I suggest, rather than going out to Moscow's English-language theaters over the next two weeks, is that you stay home and watch one of these Top Five Gulf War II Flix, a list I've compiled exspeshully for you, folks. And all five are available on pirate video which means not a red cent goes to the corrupt Hollywood studios, to taxes for the war machine, or for royalties to turncoat Hollywood stars. Ready? Here goes:
- Three Kings. Not only the most brilliant Gulf War I flick, but the only Gulf War I flick. Reason? That wasn't even a war, it was an impression of a war. As Sam Kinison said, the Iraqis were surrendering to video cameras then: "Hands above your head, or I'll zoom! I mean it!" Entire divisions would fall over to surrender if you held out a 16-piece bucket of Extra Crispy Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was 1991, folks, when Bush Sr. was in power, a man who in retrospect seems like a paragon of reason and virtue compared to his coke-fiend son. Anyway, Three Kings follows four US soldiers who slice through entire battalions of armed Iraqis as if they've got the Klingon cloaking device, as if they were gods. And it was probably true then. The effect of this movie will be to demoralize and depress you when you compare that war to this war. You've gotta wonder what Sam Kinison would have said about GWII if he were still alive: "Hey Jethro, check this out! That group of ragheads up there is already surrendering and we haven't fired a shot! It's just like 1991! Ah-hahahaha!" KH-Kh-kh-kh! "Oh shit, Jethro! I've been shot! The ragheads shot me! That wasn't supposed to happen! That's not fair! We didn't wargame this! I've been shot by the laughingstock of the military encyclopedia! I live in hell! Oh-Ahhh!!!"
- The Big Lebowski This is the only other quality movie I know of that even mentions Gulf War I. Watching it now is sad because it takes place in a period, the early 1990s, that seems today so innocent. We had no idea how good we had it. Old babbling useless hippies, a white underclass in LA that lives without a care, reasonably comfortable as white underclasses go. Today, they'd all be on workfare or in prison camps. I like to imagine different characters here. Like Ariel Sharon as Walter Sobchak: "Shomer Shabbas! I don't fucking roll on Shomer Shabbas!" Saddam as Jesus: "Wha' the fuck this bullshit, mang! You think you take me out in opening hour of war? It don' make no difference to Tariq 'n me. Laughable, mang! Ha-ha! I woulda fuck you in da ass on March 20, I fuck you in da ass on March 21 instead, mang!" Sobchak: "He's cracking, Dude."
- Apocalypse Now. Now you need some cheering up. If anyone says that Apocalypse Now is an anti-war movie, they're either stupid or lying or both. This movie says that war is hell, and it's too bad that you poor saps, living in post-hippie America at the end of the 1970s, will never get to visit that hell. The one nice thing about GWII is that it's bound to produce at least a few good tales on the Apocalypse Now scale if only because GWII looks like it's going to destroy the glorious American Empire once and for all. And folks, let's face it: nothing inspires artists like national decline.
- Blackhawk Down. This is the movie that soldiers on the ground in Iraq have been quoting most as a reference to the battles that they've been in. It's also apparently the movie Saddam watched over and over in preparing for GWII. A very bad sign. GWII is indeed Blackhawk Down, only repeated and stretched over a period of months or years rather than 24 hours. Give Clinton this much: at least he knew when to pull out. Even Monica would agree.
- Starship Troopers. Of all the movies, this one will creep you out the most. Ostensibly a sci-fi satire, Starship Troopers in fact anticipates by just a few years America's transformation into flat-out crazy fascism. Troopers even has embedded journalists wearing literally the same demi-Nazi helmets and using the same jingoistic rhetoric of today's correspondents. Do you want to know more?
Welp, that's my list for what you SHOULD do. However, if you must go to the local theaters, then I guess I have to review the movies they're showing. And lemme tell ya, folks, I'm not happy about having to watch the first one of these. You people owe me big-time for this.
Now I know how the Coalition of the Willing can win the Iraq War. Set up a huge screen in the sky over Baghdad and beam The Hours on repeat like the Batman signal. It would break the Hussein regime's will to fight within days, possibly hours (no pun intended).
I knew it was going to be bad from the cover, featuring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore all looking as bland and tragically middle-aged as you can imagine. This movie is what life must be like in a discontented, middle-aged East Coast bourgeois woman's mind, the type who keeps a Sue Miller book and a bottle of Xanax on her bed-table.
The action is slow, full of insinuation, and almost everything takes place not only indoors, but in the kitchen or in bed. It is weepy, melodramatic, sentimental and pseudo-intellectual in all the ways that make me fear marriage. Marriage means attaching myself to one of these creatures and being forced to share their private tragedy.
I could go on...it hurts too much.
Five minutes into The Whours, I was screeching. By the ten minute mark I was rolling on the floor, crying out "I give! I give!" The fifteen minute mark took this viewer to a new level of sheer hell: introducing a poet dying of AIDS. It wasn't fair, piling one Manhattan cliche upon the next. If your idea of a good movie is time-traveling through quietly unsatisfied middle-aged female worlds, then this movie is the Independence Day of the pretentious female genre.
Just in case three unhappy middle-aged women isn't enough to bring you down, they drag out the old 80s stalwart cliche, the poet with AIDS. He's male, sort of, but his problems are those of depressed rich women: in the opening scene, he fusses over whether he should attend a party or not. AIDS supposedly has weakened him, but he still has the energy to cough up the worst dialogue I can ever recall:
"Oh Mrs. Dalloway... always giving parties... to cover the silence."
"Sort of like black fire - sort of like light and dark at the same time."
It gets worse: a Virginia Wolff character and there's a modern character in America named Mrs. Dalloway. Pretty literary, ain't it?
The one good thing about this film is that it has made all other chick flix before it seem like a cakewalk. I will never complain about having to watch your Maids In Manhattan or your Greek Weddings, not after this movie. In fact, if 15 minutes of Hours did one thing, it made me thank God, out loud, literally, for making me a man.
I can't give this movie any Ted Bundy's - he only killed young girls. I can't give it any black eye-cons either because if you were to rough up the type of woman who likes this movie, she'd just make a martyr of herself. No, the only icon that's appropriate here is a mastectomy icon. Three malignant lumps for this movie. Breast cancer is the only language women like this understand.
There is a genre of American comedies that either work for you or they don't. They're of the cheap laughs type of comedy, and there've been more and more of them lately. Films like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, Deuce Bigelow, Superstar, and every Adam Sandler flick. They tend to last 2 weeks in the big theaters, several more weeks in the 2 dollar theaters, and repeat forever on cable. Personally I like a lot of those movies (except the Adam Sandler ones).
I watched Deuce Bigelow a couple of years ago with my psycho ex-girlfriend. It was one of the happiest moments we had together, so I'll always have a soft spot for lead Rob Schneider. A happy time is a happy time.
The premise here is mercifully simple: a bitchy prom queen steals a pair of ancient earrings that allow the wearer to switch bodies with another if they each wear one earring. By wacky accident, the babe prom queen winds up switching bodies with dime-store stickup chump Schneider.
Watching Schneider doing a shemale act is not easy on the eyes. He's a disgusting mixture of pudgy-soft, hairy, aging and balding, so you'll feel a constant low-intensity nausea throughout this movie. On the other hand, the high school girls are hot, and there are enough laughs to keep you interested in seeing out the movie to the end.
Two Stars 'n Stripes. The kind of people who won't like this movie, the Beigeist-intellectual types, are incidental in the war against terror. As for young suicide-bomber-aged types from the Third World, they'll watch this movie, get a little titillated and think that America is a fun, wild place full of beautiful teenage girls with lesbian tendencies. They will be less likely to bomb us and more likely to foolishly believe that there is a place in America for dark-skinned foreigners.