Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Atheist's Nightmare: 'Left Behind'

Since we know homophobic evangelical ignoramus Kirk Cameron's modi operandi always revolve around pimping out his various 'ministries', let's see how 'The Way of the Master' - the hilarious and grotesque series he does with that one guy who's obsessed with bananas - handles the straight-to-video 'Left Behind.' As one new to such 'ministries,' I'm in need of some basics, so a correlation between the plot of this movie and the relevant 10 (alleged) Principles for New Christians should help ground me in Cameron's 'ministries.' Yeah, Imma keep writing that word like that until it sticks.

We begin the movie with a bang, and by a bang I mean a bunch of shots of tourists wandering around Jerusalem. THE HORROR! Kirk Cameron, known in this universe by the hardboiled moniker Buck Fuckley (that's not his real last name, but things that rhyme are better than things that don't rhyme), intrepid reporter, stands in a clearly GMO-engineered wheat field outside of the city. The old dude who is responsible for this isn't God - he's a scientist, who's psyched to use his Eden Project (oy) to end world hunger, which I guess starts in Israel. Three minutes later there's a massive airstrike, with so many digital planes I feel like I'm playing Galaga. As the skies inexplicably blacken, Buck and Old Dude hustle for cover into a run-down hut, which turns out to be a super high tech secret underground facility, because of course it is. It feels like there should be a Jaeger or two lying around in there to help out, or at least WOPR, but instead there's just a bunch of people pointing at maps and an Israeli commander yelling in bewilderment because "all the electronics are jammed." I thought Israel had nukes and one of the world's best militaries? No? Just checking.

Principle 4: Prayer - Wait For A Minute

        According to the Way of the Master, this one's easy. This would definitely be a moment in the movie where prayer would work and save everyone, right? In order to get "clean hands and a pure heart," you have to confess your sins through prayer. It probably wasn't Kirk Cameron's intent, but that makes me think of "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," and then I think of Tim Riggins, and then I'm happy. So I guess it works!

Well, Thank God (TM Kirk Cameron) Buck Fuckley's on the case, because he grabs his trusty camera and runs back outside to film the situation. Back at wherever he's broadcasting to, a bunch of his colleagues are transfixed by his Pulitzer Prize-worthy commentary. A kooky woman with a bizarre swirly bindi on her forehead begs Buck to get out, while a man notes that Buck would have filmed Hiroshima from ground zero if he'd been there, a statement which reads on so many levels of horrible I need some Clorox sprayed on my brain to get rid of it.

Then, holy shit! Moses comes around the corner and spews a prophecy, and then wanders off to get an espresso.

Moving on. Some fake 'N Sync plays while a handsome fellow in a commercial pilot captain's uniform washes his face. He comes downstairs to his nuclear family just in time to say something demeaning to his teenage daughter, pick a fight with his wife and flip 'tude to the family's reverend. Looks like somebody needs to get SAVED! Aaaaand we have our story arc.

Principle 2: Faith - Elevators Can Let You Down
       According to the Way of the Master, God will never let you down if you trust him. Crafting a metaphor for spiritual faith which involves an elevator going up and down is extremely logical. From this I get that Handsome Captain needs to ride up and down in an elevator, and then he will find his faith.

After Buck Fuckley meets up with an informant who's positive the world's going to end because of banking and the CIA (maybe I had this movie all wrong!), he reviews his footage of Moses and is startled to hear him speaking Hebrew, when he was SURE he heard him in English before. What can this mean? We don't know, because this movie refuses to let us understand one single plot point before hurtling on to the next! In this case, it's to go to London, where a different handsome fellow from the U.N. appears to be in cahoots with some kind of shady banking kingpin who shows him a blueprint for what looks like Solomon's Temple. WOT IS DIS MYSTERY! Only Buck Fuckley can esplain, but he's too busy flying on an airplane piloted by Handsome Captain. After a brief exchange with a flight attendant who apparently got promoted to U.N. delegate thanks to some strings that Buck Fuckley pulled, we discover that Handsome Captain is TRYING TO HAZ AN AFFAIR WITH HER. This revelation pales in comparison to the revelation Buck Fuckley subsequently has, which is that a bunch of people on the plane have been spirited away, leaving their clothes behind!

Now, if this movie had any stones (meaning, of course: how I would do it), what would happen next is: Buck Fuckley would land the plane in a jungle and then the remaining people would have to battle dinosaurs using only their wits, their sexuality and whatever tools they can fashion from the plane. Since nobody asked me, this is what happens instead:

The Pilot's daughter (sporting a nose ring and a choker - thank you, 'Left Behind' costume designer!) comes across a huge accident perpetrated by people-less clothes. It turns out that loads of people everywhere are gone! Now, I need the Way of the Master here, because I thought the people who would be Left Behind (TM Kirk Cameron) would be sinners and shit, and yet there are all these perfectly good and kind people still hanging around. What gives?

Principle 5: Warfare - Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

        According to the Way of the Master, the world, the devil and the flesh are enemies of God. There's also something in here about floating with dead fish, but I may need more 'ministry' to understand that. Mainly, God is "bringing every work to judgement," so all these people must be sinners and Buck Fuckley's still here to show everyone the Way [of the Master]? Yes?

Handsome Captain lands the plane in Chicago and Buck Fuckley calls Kooky Bindi, asking her to get a hold of Dirk Burton, the crazed conspiracy theorist from earlier. I wish I'd made up that name, but I didn't; someone else called an 'author' did. Buck Fuckley tries to convince Handsome Captain to fly him to New York (in his commercial jet? All by himself? I guess solving world hunger's OK, but perpetrating a fuel shortage crisis is no big whoop) because "it's really important." Well, I'm convinced! They go to Handsome Captain's house, where it looks like his wife and son took off with the Langoliers as well.

Why does he care? He was trying to fuck that U.N. delegate! Handsome Captain starts to read the Holey Bibley, showing us the story arc is working. His daughter comes home just in time to create evangelical Christian sexual tension with Buck Fuckley. She wants to help him, but he won't let her go outside because "it's madness out there," even though when they do go out the only things we see are an old couple walking sorrowfully down the block and a dog waiting for its owner to come back from The Rapture (TM Kirk Cameron). Thank you, Buck Fuckley, for attempting to assert the patriarchy! A mercurial private pilot costumed like professional lunatic Randy Quaid in 'Independence Day' gets Buck to New York with the alacrity of Brad Pitt shuttling around the planet hunting zombies.

Back in Chicago, the reverend friend of Handsome Captain is FREAKING OUT because he thinks he was a fraud. Wait a sec - if there was a Rapture (TM Kirk Cameron), then wouldn't he be proven right? The poor bastard goes on an 'acting' tirade the likes of which haven't been experienced since 'The Room,' yelling from the pulpit and falling on his knees and bawling so hard that Handsome Captain starts bawling too. The music swells, light spills through a stained glass church window, and I begin to feel nauseous, as though I've eaten a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Principle 7: Thanksgiving - Do The Right Thing

        According to the Way of the Master, this has nothing to do with Spike Lee. It has to do with "seeing more from your knees, than you do from your tip toes [sic]." As the reverend is bawling on his knees, I think he has Principle 7 under control.

Buck Fuckley's conspiracist friend is dead at the hand of the shady banking kingpin, so it's up to Buck, his Kooky Girl Friday and her similarly kooky roommate (or possibly lover? YES PLZ) to unravel some kind of secret code thingie that has to do with those blueprints we saw earlier. As Buck says, we're looking for a connection between the Temple, the GMO field and the destroyed planes. Yeah, you and me both, man! All the sweaters are unraveling!

Meanwhile, Handsome Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the Old Dude are hanging out at the U.N. (what is it with the U.N.?!), discussing the blueprints and a formula, and generating greater overall confusion about the plot of this movie. Boutros tells the world via Fox News that "accumulated radiation" is responsible for 140 million people going missing, which sounds a little bit like swamp gas reflecting the light from Venus, but what do I know? Kooky Bindi thinks he's making perfect sense, and since she's the arbiter of logic in this movie, it must be true. She does some more research that confuses me further, spurring Buck to get back on that plane and fly BACK to Chicago, where he figures out (finally) that all these shenanigans (save the one shenanigan that's actually interesting, namely: people magically disappearing from the earth) have to do with the shady banking kingpin using Boutros as a puppet to get something and someone formula money world hunger la la la la. He's TOO CLOSE TO THE TROOF, because he almost gets in a car that blows up!

Handsome Captain and his daughter comes to Buck's rescue; or, rather, they sensibly take him to get medical attention in the reverend's church office, rather than at a hospital. You're thinking, give me a break! How can a reverend possibly have medical equipment in his office that can clean and set Buck's shattered kneecap? But he's got something better: THE TROOF! Buck doesn't believe that The Rapture (TM Kirk Cameron) could be responsible for all those people vanishing, so the reverend, Handsome Captain and his daughter trot this out:

Principle 10: Troubleshooting - Cults, Atheists, Skeptics

        According to the Way of the Master, a repairman with a B.A. in the study of heat can tell you that a hot heater isn't hot, and you shouldn't believe him. That is TROOF! I would never believe any bullshit some guy with a B.A. in Heat Studies would tell me. Also: "the way to prevent sporting injury and pain, is to keep yourself fit. Exercise.[sic]" Principle 10 is extremely helpful! Thanks, Principle 10!

Kirk Cameron tries to convince us that he's playing a role by delivering this line: "Whoever this Antichrist guy is, he's gonna have one big war on his hands if he tries to rebuild this temple anytime soon!"

I just threw this in here because I didn't want to get to the end of this review without it.

The reverend believes peace is coming in the Middle East, while Buck - on the verge of converting to evangelical Christianity right under our noses - goes running off instead to "do something," forgetting that he's blown out his kneecap and gotten substandard medical care for it besides. He teleports to the U.N., where he has a crying epiphany in the bathroom while back in Chicago Handsome Captain and his daughter work on helping him out with a remote application of Principle 4. Buck's epiphany shows him that Boutros is THE ANTICHRIST GASP! Boutros starts going around in the U.N. doing crazy Antichrist shit like mind control and shooting the shady banker kingpin in the head, while his Whore of Babylon, the slutty former flight attendant, looks evil and tries to convince Buck that everything's OK. Buck knows that's some BULL-SHIT, because, well, Antichrist, and he goes back to the daughter and the church and Handsome Captain in order to...what? Build a rad army to fight the Antichrist? Actually figure out what the hell is going on? Make felt-and-macaroni banners? I'm assuming there's a sequel or twenty, because I've been left hangin' like Mr. Cooper here. Kirk Cameron, though, would probably tell me that the answers are all in the 10 (alleged) Principles for New Christians. Thanks, Kirk Cameron, for showing me The Way of the Master!

You guys don't have to watch the movie - just watch this video, which is basically one lyric away from a Nickelback song. Hence:

Monday, June 2, 2014

'Cursed': How To Be A Werewolf 101

Netflix...I'm back. I left you briefly when Amazon Prime lured me with the siren song of all those magical TV shows they threw at us a few weeks ago. 'True Blood'. 'Sopranos'. 'Carnivale'. So many titties. So much awesome.

But sooner or later, I always feel a longing for the Instant, like a craving for Cheetos or a desire to read a John Grisham book. Sometimes all that well-written, well-crafted storytelling, shot and edited beautifully, just isn't enough. Sometimes, the roulette wheel spins, and the number that comes up is just a real piece of shit that satisfies like none other.

That, my friends, is what I found when I came back to the Instant the other day, and saw this:

Mind, I'd just come off of binge-watching 3 trashy, unhinged seasons of True Blood, so I was kind of like, Meh, werewolves, I dunno. My affinity for a werewolf story pretty much extends to 'Teen Wolf', Original Flavor. But in peering more closely at the above image, I spotted Pacey, and wondered if this was one of those late-nineties Kevin Williamson-style movies where everybody wears halter tops and chokers or some shit like that (TM Vickie Miner) and runs around slinging quips (I LOVE QUIPS).

First: Wes Craven AND Kevin Williamson. So, yeah. Halter tops and blood squibs. Check. Second: Shia le Boeuf Bourguignone. OK, I know it's not Shia le Boeuf Bourggignon, it's the other guy from the Face Books documentary, but whatever, at this point they were indistinguishable from one another because: hair, nerdy fast-talking, squirrelly, smells like child actor. Check. Third: 2005. 2005!? I continue to be astonished by movies that are released that either came out of a wormhole or sat in the can for 8 years before somebody decided to try to make money off of them. 2005!?

So you press play, and here's essentially what you get, right from the jump:

No, sorry, it's actually the "band" Bowling for Soup, "performing" for a crowd of fans on the pier who are trying really hard to rock out for the camera despite their obvious misgivings. Two young ladies - the girl from 'American Pie' whose name I can't be bothered to look up and Mya, playing the role of the R&B singer trying to become a legit actor - sit down at the gypsy fortune teller's table, said gypsy being: PORTIA DE ROSSI!?28*@(*#! Why are you in this movie, dressed like Radagast the Brown? Portia freaks out on the girls and starts spewing cliches like "The beast is coming!" and "Beware the moon!" Doom approacheth, I guess. This is boring already, right? Let's get outta here. Cut to! Wacky dutch angle shots of the super-crazy parts of Hollywood, like the Ripley's Museum, which according to this movie is the arbiter of weird. The Boeuf Borg Queen, wearing a Penguin jacket (which would be hipster now but was dorky in 2005 apparently) and a backpack with both straps over his shoulders (yeah, dorky, sure) tries to flirt with a hot girl but is shut down by her aggressively homophobic boyfriend, that one guy from 'Heroes'. Nowadays, an aggressively homophobic character in a teen film would obviously be a troubled gay youth afraid to come out, but back then, it was like "Dayum, that guy is, like, so homophobic!" BECAUSE WE DIDN'T KNOW.

Christina Ricci, the world's gothiest pocket person, goes to visit her boyfriend Pacey at the new club he's setting up, a place called 'Tinsel' - as in 'Town,' not the Christmas decoration - which is basically Planet Hollywood with horror movie stuff Wes Craven probably lent production from the shit he had in his garage. Pacey appears all scruffy and mysterious, and when Christina Ricci makes out with him she makes a stink face like she tastes something gross.

You taste like a burger, Pacey. I don't like you anymore. Probably because you're a werewolf. NOT A SPOILER.

Christina Ricci and her brother the Borg drive home on Mulholland (where the shit are they going from Hollywood that they would take Mulholland?) and get into a bad accident with American Pie, who's trapped in her car. The Borg helps free her just in time for something big and hairy to snatch her, drag her into the woods and eat her. Looks like Portia de Rossi was right! The Borg AND Christina Ricci get clawed, which according to the lame rules of bad werewolf movies means they're going to turn into werewolves; and just in case you didn't get it, the Borg's cute dog starts growling at him like Jonesy growling at Ripley's alien fetus.

Special plus bonus: this guy, playing a cop who doesn't care about werewolves:

So Christina and her brother go home, where some bad horror movie camera angles and some internet browsing of unsolved animal attack websites tell us shit is starting to get shady. Christina Ricci gets scared out of her mind by a fucking cuckoo clock (with Red Riding Hood on it, foreshadowing...?) and by the open front door with dead leaves blowing all over the place, which is because Pacey scruffily and mysteriously came in the house and left the door open for some bizarre reason. Shut the damned door, dude! Christina Ricci has a crazy dream where she bites him and a fly lands on her eyeball, while her brother wakes up outside, naked. He MUST be a werewolf. In case you still haven't realized this, he helps you out by eating deli meat with salt on it right out of the container for breakfast. Did you know salted deli meat was werewolf food?

The great Judy Greer shows up at Christina Ricci's office (I guess she works on the Craig Kilborne Show? Random). She is Scott Baio's publicist. Yeah, that's not a typo. She's REALLY concerned about this interview Scott Baio is going to do, and will Christina Ricci be dressed nicely enough and on time for it? I would rather know: why are all these awesome female comic actors slumming in this movie?

Christina Ricci is more concerned about stalking her way through the office huffing the air, because somebody has a bloody nose, and werewolves like bloody noses. I feel like this movie is truly a primer in understanding the biology of werewolves. She has to go meet Scott Baio at some rooftop party populated by halter tops and chokers, where Pacey scruffily and mysteriously shows up again (WEREWOLF MUCH), wanting to talk, because he feels badly about something blah blah who gives a fuck. Cheryl Tunt yanks Christina out of THAT awkward situation and sits her down with Scott Freaking Baio, the stupid unicorn of this movie. Scott gets really mad when Christina amusingly informs him he's going on for his interview with Craig after Ashton Kutcher and Carrot Top. Even if this movie were happening in 2014, that would still suck for Scott Baio, wouldn't it?

Down in the parking garage, more bad horror movie camera angles tell us that a werewolf's in the parking garage, ready to eat Mya, who's been in the movie long enough. When she sees oily werewolf pawprints on the floor, she smiles and tips her head, like, Yeah, sure, OK! Because it makes total sense, in the context of this movie.

So the thing that shows up to eat her was built by Rick Baker, the daddy of the badass werewolf from 'An American Werewolf in London':

Except THIS werewolf looks like a generic Halloween costume somebody bought at Aahs!!:

Somebody phoned it in! The werewolf eats Mya, which should surprise nobody. Later, the Borg tells Christina Ricci that 'the experts' in all the werewolf books he's been reading over the past couple of hours say that all signs point to them being werewolves. She doesn't believe him, but he's all-fired to take his place as a Teen Wolf, which means he comes to school the next day with a cool long-sleeved shirt on instead of his Penguin jacket and - I shit you not - a wig.

Let's do a quick character comparison here:

Yeah, sorry, guy, you lose.

Some butt-rock playing on the soundtrack accompanies Teen Wolf's wrestling tryout match against the homophobic boyfriend. Wait - I didn't accidentally put 'Teen Wolf Too' in the DVD, did I? I'm still watching a movie from 2005, right? Teen Wolf shows all the cheerleaders and mean jocks at school that werewolves are hardcore, while Christina Ricci is spazzing out at work because she sucked on Craig Kilborne's bloody finger ERMEHGERD. She's got a bad feeling about her werewolfiness because Portia de Rossi showed up at the Craig Kilborne Show (?) and told her:

She goes and hides in the bathroom, where a concerned colleague tries to open the stall door on her. What the fuck, lady? Can't a girl drop a deuce in peace? Christina Ricci is SO DETERMINED not to let her concerned colleague in that she hangs on to the stall door so hard her fingers dent the metal and get all bloody. All right, all ready! We get it, we'll let you work on that shit all by yourself.

Teen Wolf lets us know he's definitely a werewolf, in case you were STILL unclear about all of this, because he touches a silver pie server and his hand smokes. The homophobic boyfriend shows up at his door to profess his love for him in a scene which feels practically medieval in its offensive stiltedness (although upon further reflection....props for trying and failing, I guess). Teen Wolf's dog goes berserk on them, coz he got infected with wereness. In another movie this might have been handled as an interesting story element, buuuuut not here! The gay-not-homophobic boyfriend and Teen Wolf escape from the weredog by driving on Mulholland to get to Hollywood, which NOBODY DOES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD JUST TAKE THE 405 TO THE 101 THERE'S NO TRAFFIC THAT LATE AT NIGHT I PROMISE. At Pacey's club opening, Cheryl Tunt tries to push Scott Baio on everyone while Teen Wolf and Christina Ricci do a bunch of running around and hiding and investigating, the frantic hallmark of the climactic scenes in bad horror/adventure/fantasy movies. Who's the Big Bad? Is it Pacey? Is it Craig Kilborne's assistant? Is it some random girl in a halter top and a choker? When the werewolf goes on a rampage, Scott Baio (!?) saves Christina Ricci, yelling, "Come on! It's a fucking werewolf!" While everyone stampedes all over the place, Christina Ricci harasses a guard, demanding to know where her brother is. How the hell should that guy know?


Nope, it's Cheryl Tunt, who jumps through a silver lame curtain, flips her hair off her shoulders and announces per her contractual obligations to production, "Showtime!" There's a sad girlfight between Cheryl and Christina, replete with monologuing, which ends when Christina Maces her in a moment that's supposed to be triumphant, I guess. Pacey shows up and tries to reason with Cheryl, but she knees him in the junk, which is apparently enough to put him down and out for the rest of the fight! Did you guys know you could take a werewolf out with a knee in the junk?

Cheryl wolfs out in an exquisite display of fourth-tier VFX and chases after Christina and Teen Wolf, while they holler things like "We Gotta Get Outta Here!" (TM The Eighties) and "You're playing with us, aren't you? Well, play this!" The cops shoot the shit out of Cheryl, and then everything's OK, right? No way, man! Back at the ranch, Christina and Teen Wolf start to realize they're still wolfing out because O NOES MAYBE CHERYL WASN'T THE ONE, and then Pacey shows up and monologues like crazy about how you kill a werewolf, what he wanted all along, and blah blah so on and so forth. Forty-five minutes later, after Teen Wolf runs awkwardly around on the ceiling and Christina tries to take Pacey out with a pie server, she finally gets real and cuts his head off with a shovel after getting one last quip in. The last shot of the burned-up werewolf Pacey is a pile of goo surrounding the pie server. Who knew the pie server was so important?

The triumphant ending goes as follows:

1. The dog shows up accompanied by the hot girl from the beginning and the gay-not-homophobic guy
2. Teen Wolf makes out with the hot girl in front of everybody, which doesn't bother the gay-not-homophobic guy who was her boyfriend the day before because he's gay so it's all OK
3. The gay-not-homophobic guy says "Nice moves"
4. They walk into the night holding hands while the camera cranes dramatically over Christina Ricci, who starts, uh, cleaning up the house.

This movie does not get a Nickelback two-thumbs-up, because there is SO not enough Scott Baio in it!??!