October 24th, 2005

Really Bad Cinema

Y'know, you'd think that by the time one reaches middle age, one would've learned to ignore the critics, but NOOOOOOOO, I occasionally still get sucked in. I think every one of these nimrods who raved David Cronenberg's A History of Violence need to get together, pool their money and refund my ticket (oh, and as long as they're at it, the two friends I was with want their money back, too).

Spoilers to Follow, But You Probably Already Know This Stuff Anyway:

Hey, I'm sure The Fog and Doom are abysmally bad and dumber'n dirt - but at least they don't present themselves with a sheen of "high art". You know A History of Violence is a-r-t because it's slow, full of swooping camera shots, the actors take lots of pauses between lines, and it's really really serious in tone. I'm so sick of critics being bamboozled by anything that has a major director's name on it, and has that air of pretension. For cryin' out loud, this movie is nothing but a pure pulp story that's very badly cast (sure, I believe that gorgeous size-2 30something waif as a middle-aged midwest housewife! Sure, I believe ultimate WASP William Hurt as a major crime boss!), badly directed (wow, Viggo can dodge bullets fired at him from 10 feet away!), and even badly scored (I entertained myself for a while counting how many riffs Howard Shore had lifted from Bernard Herrmann). I suppose Cronenberg thought he was making some rich story about how violence can beget violence even in an ordinary downhome guy...but that message is completely rendered null when we realize this was a violent guy to begin with. In this post-Sopranos era, Cronenberg's notion of gangster bosses living in castles surrounded by thugs just seems hopelessly cliched and quaint, and this steaming crapfest also has the two absolute worst sex scenes in years: One tells us that adults can only enjoy sex when they pretend to be teenagers, and the other reveals the hidden truth that of course wimmenfolk really want to be raped.

Gaahhh. When this thing was over, a guy next to me groaned very loudly, "My god" (my friends thought it was me). That sums it up pretty well, I'd say.


In more pleasant news, we attended the delightful Clive Barker signing at Dark Delicacies over the weekend, and I'm happy to report that Clive retains his title as The World's Most Charming Man. He generously gave me a full-page drawing in my copy of the Dark Delicacies anthology, and even more generously gifted Ricky Lee with a very expensive cigar when RL admired the one Clive was smoking. He also looked relaxed and rested, in better shape than when I last saw him in June, although it's still startling to hear the poor man's voice (for those of you who may not be aware, he has apparently suffered some sort of permanent damage to his vocal cords and will forever speak just barely above a whisper). Oh, and his art book is gorgeous, too, with fabulous color reproductions, gilt edges, etc. - well worth the $50 price tag.

The world's greatest product

To wash the taste of A History of Violence out of our mouths yesterday, we first treated ourselves to a great Japanese dinner (shabu-shabu for Ricky Lee and our friend Dez, sashimi and bbq salmon for me), then an expedition to our favorite Asian grocery, the Hawaii Supermarket (at the corner of Valley and Del Mar, for you adventurous locals). This trip to the mecca of weird Asian foods turned up this whopper:

They taste sort of like a cross between crackers and cookies, and have an intriguing, slighly mushy texture. I'm only sorry now we didn't also pick up a bag of the "Fried Paste" (it was even on sale!).