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By Excess Hollywood | December 20, 2006

Recently my friends have been taking me to task whenever I use my column to rip on movies I haven’t seen. Now, if I haven’t seen a film, I don’t say I have, but that’s apparently a moot point. And it doesn’t matter that they routinely confuse a critical piece, where I have to see the movie in order to write the review, with an opinion piece, where anything is fair game. It seems that some of my friends (and casual acquaintances) would like me to stop picking on movies like “”Snow Dogs” and “”Miami Vice” because I haven’t subjected myself to their tortures. “”It’s only fair,” they say, “”to see the movie before you make fun of it.”

A bullet from a .45, which weighs a mere 230 grams, is capable of doing a lot of damage to the human body. Once inside the victim, many different factors come into play. If the bullet hits bone, it can either shatter the bone or ricochet off it (sometimes both happen), causing it to exit where one would least expect. (In smaller caliber guns, it has been noted that men trying to kill themselves with a shot to the head are sometimes surprised that a bullet that goes through the roof of the mouth may come out an eye or even travel along the surface of the skull and miss the brain entirely.) Bullets also don’t retain their shape. Some mushroom. Some splinter. Hollow points are designed to actually get trapped inside the body (and are often used so that people behind the intended target don’t get hit by an exiting bullet). If a hollow point .45 bullet leaves the victim, as rare as that is, its exit wound is significantly larger than its entrance wound. This means that while wounds may have some universal patterns, one constant is inconsistency.

.45 caliber bullets have killed. They have paralyzed. They have even gone through lucky souls without hitting any major organs, leaving an exit wound as clean as the entrance wound. “”Clean” isn’t exactly the proper word, though. As these bullets enter the body, they tear flesh, which leaves a wound ripe for all sorts of nasty bacteria. And if these bullets happen to tear an intestine on their route, fecal matter can complicate the healing process.

I know all of this through research. I’ve read up on the subject, and I’ve seen real-life footage of people who have been shot. I’ve examined autopsy photos, and have listened to experts drone on and on about the subject. I have never been shot with a .45 bullet.

That said, I know enough about it to realize I really don’t want to be.

When I bust on “”Radio” or “”Happy Feet,” it’s the same thing. I know enough about the film to be able to take it to task. It’s not judging a book by its cover, either. It’s judging by common sense, reading reviews, watching trailers and listening to what other people have to say about it. It’s the same exact process normal people use when deciding what movie they want to see. I just use it to tell me which ones I don’t want to watch. (Other people do the same thing, but apparently don’t realize it.)

I’ve been involved in “”entertainment journalism” long enough to know when something makes for good comedy. I won’t write a review of the skewered film (unless I have seen it), but that doesn’t mean I can’t and won’t comment on it. Like it or not, I’m going to speak my mind about crap like “”Snakes on a Plane,” and there’s nothing that can stop me. And while that may irritate some readers and friends, I must say I don’t care.

The role of a critic is closely tied to the role of a commentator. There is a subtle difference, however. A critic usually focuses on one set piece of work, or body of work. A commentator can be broader in scope. I don’t know why some people don’t get this. It’s really not my problem, though. My problem is coming up with new and clever ways of belittling people who paid to see “”Fantastic Four.” (I can’t call them “”socially retarded wannabe pedophiles” because some people take that the wrong way, and it paints real pedophiles in a bad light.) My problem is not making sure I don’t offend a “”Star Trek” fan. My problem is making sure I do.

I’m glad people defend film. That’s important. If more people did it, maybe there would be no need for the MPAA or directors’ versions (because that’s what we’d see in the first place). Instead of fighting for those things, though, people want to tell me to stop “”dissing” “”Lord of War.” In a country where you’re still pretty free to say almost anything, this is what they chose to speak about. I have a problem with that. Sure, defend film, but at least pick something worth defending. Something with some actual guts. Something of substance.

When people defend films as “”mindless fun,” I’ll attack that. Some are mindless fun. (“”The Corpse Grinders” comes to mind.) But when people call them “”mindless fun” and then act as if these movies have some honest-to-God relevance to the world of cinema, I will definitely call that as I see it, even if I haven’t watched the film. Let’s face it, in twenty years from now nobody is going to be calling “”Urban Legend” a horror masterpiece. To defend it as such is to declare your ignorance of film both past and present. Yet it happens all the time. People get so caught up in the moment, fed a steady diet of nothing, that they can’t identify films of true importance. To them, a classic film is what came out last summer. It’s the girl on who is twenty-five and declares “”Legally Blonde” to be her favorite movie of “”forever” because it really taught her “”what’s important in life.” It’s someone saying they had low expectations for a film before they even saw it, but went anyway “”just because.”

And I’m the one who gets s**t for saying “”The Dukes of Hazard” looked like a poorly planned execution that went horribly wrong. Where’s the justice in that?

Here’s my challenge to the people who say I shouldn’t poke fun at a movie I haven’t seen: If you stop seeing crap, I’ll stop telling you it looks like crap. If you start watching films of actual merit, are able to discuss them in terms other than “”really good,” “”cool” and “”the special effects rocked,” I’ll stop “”dissing” remakes and “”reimagings.” If you stop going into films with “”zero expectations” and start watching films you think are actually worth your time and money, I’ll stop pointing out what a tool you are. If you stop going to see nonsense because “”there was nothing better to do,” I’ll stop reminding you that with all the entertainment choices in the world there is no longer any excuse to be bored.
It’s a tall order. I understand that. But I’m willing to hold up my end of the bargain. I can write plenty of columns about movies I enjoy. The thing is, I don’t think you folks can hold up your end. Your sweet tooth dictates far too many of your viewing choices. Seeing garbage is so ingrained into your psyche that quality films no longer look good. In fact, I think you’d rent a film you’ve seen before — and disliked — just because it’s on the new shelf instead of trying something that is actually new to you.

I’ve got your number, and I don’t even know some of you all that well. I guess I’m guilty again. Maybe it would be harder if you weren’t so damn predictable. Think about that the next time you sit down to write me a letter about how “”wrong” I am to dismiss something like “”The Departed” without even seeing it. Think about that, and then think about my little piece on the .45 bullet and to what I wrote about guys shooting themselves in the head. If you don’t believe me about exit wounds, give it a try. Just don’t put the gun in your mouth. I don’t want to take the chance that the bullet would miss your brain.

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  1. George Anthony Watson says:

    I feel like rambling, enjoy.

    So, we’re nearing the end of 2006, and more than half the list of movies you referenced in this column (oh wait, it’s the 21st century, I just read a blog) date back to 2001?

    “Legally Blonde”-2001
    “Snow Dogs”-2002
    “Radio”-2003 (What’s with your Cuba Gooding, Jr. obsession?)
    “Fantastic Four”-2005
    “Lord of War”-2005
    “The Dukes of Hazzard”-2005

    A f*****g imbecile could “bust” on these movies.

    “My problem is not making sure I don’t offend a “Star Trek” fan. My problem is making sure I do.”

    Yeah, real f*****g hard to do that. Hope Gore is not paying you much for this phoned-in “blog.”

    Doug, your courage makes us champions.

    Did you set foot inside a movie theater in 2006?

    Probably not. Why? I don’t know.

    Let me take a wild guess (or ten): you don’t like remakes, you don’t like movies based on books, you don’t like movies where words are incorrectly spelled in the title, you were too busy playing GT4, you were too busy having wet dreams about hitting it big-time with online poker, you were too busy watching “American Idol” with your family (fun for the whole family!), and you were too busy watching “indie” films about people pissing and shitting on one another (presumably to write “reviews”)?

    Why didn’t you drag your a*s to the theater to watch a great film like “The Departed?”

    Oh yeah, remake! And I always forget that you are anti-social and can’t stand to be in crowds (herds). Rebel.

    Why didn’t you drag your a*s to see a great film like “Babel?” Probably some issue(s) you have with Brad Pitt.

    Why didn’t you drag your a*s to the theater to watch a good film like “Miami Vice?”

    Oh yeah, it’s another remake and the previews for the movie sucked. I agree, the previews for “Miami Vice” were atrocious, and whoever put them together needs to be shot. As far as I know, directors have little or nothing at all to do with previews (which I find to be ridiculous). If I didn’t enjoy Michael Mann flicks as much as I do, the atrocious previews for “Miami Vice” were almost enough to keep me away. Almost, but not quite.

    Most of the complaints I hear/read about “Miami Vice” have to do with the pacing of the movie (which I thought was brilliant), the love story between Gong Li and Colin Farrell (which I enjoyed), and the lack of action in the movie (which I didn’t notice and ties back into the pacing of the movie). And one person (you know who he is) complained about the song, “In The Air Tonight,” not being used in the actual movie, but instead, shows up as the credits rolled at the end (in the theatrical version). Apparently Michael Mann listened to Mr Bauer’s anguished cries, and put the song in the actual movie for the Unrated Director’s Edition. You can now sleep soundly Mr. Bauer.

    Doug, you and I both know that the movie going public has a serious case of ADD and a strong need for instant gratification. Things that do not bode well for a Michael Mann helmed film.

    Also, we both know how entertaining it is to watch the reaction of adults in a dark theater when adults on the big screen engage in intimacy and sex (even simulated). On top of the public not being comfortable seeing sex on the big screen in a room full of other adults (who, I hope, are at least having sex at home, even if it is in the dark) is the fact that Michael Mann not only filmed adults having sex, he did so multiple times.

    As for the lack of action? A movie that is nearly 2 1/2 hours long and only has 2.5 shoot-outs sprinkled throughout is too dull for the movie going public. However, if Mann had made the movie 90 minutes long, left out the sex/love story, and had 5 shoot-outs instead of 2.5, it would’ve been panned by critics and the public alike, as just another Michael Bay/McG/Ratner buddy cop, action flick.

    Anyway, enough about “Miami Vice.” You’ll love it, watch it with your family asap.

    As for “Happy Feet?” Even with the draw of a newly penned Prince song in the soundtrack, you couldn’t pay me to watch that s**t. Nope, have not seen one preview for the damn thing, and hopefully never will. Like you, I can read too.

    Other movies you couldn’t pay me to watch that are currently playing here in Humboldt County? “Night At The Museum,” “We Are Marshall,” “The Nativity Story” (haven’t the suits in Hollywood learned that Christ only sells if we’re killing Him?), “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing” (pseudo-rednecks as liberal martyrs? Not buying it, and please don’t sing), “The Queen” (made-for-tv schlock), “Charlotte’s Web” (why?), “Eragon” (again, why?), “The Holiday” (again, why?), “Unaccompanied Minors” (Jesus CHRIST!), and “Deck the Halls” (shoot me!). Don’t you love the choices we have this time of year?

    I’m all for people not seeing a movie based on the previews. I refuse to watch “The Good German” based on the shitty previews that make it look like a made-for-tv Hallmark special about post-WWII. Even with Soderbergh directing, I will not sneak into the theater to watch that s**t. The same goes for “Ocean’s 13.”

    “Blood and Chocolate?” How do they finance s**t like that? Didn’t the suits learn after “The Covenant” bombed? “Oh, this time we have werewolves? Ok, here’s a check, go have fun making shite. Leave me now, so I can do another line.”

    I could spend the rest of my evening typing about the s**t that Hollywood will put out in 2007, but I don’t want to bore you to death.

    Here’s a list of movies that I can remember seeing in 2006, most of them recent, in no particular order:

    The Illusionist (enjoyed it), The Prestige (boring), Apocalypto (enjoyed it), Miami Vice (you know how I feel), The Good Shepherd (enjoyed it), The Pursuit of Happyness (enjoyed it), Blood Diamond (enjoyed it), Casino Royale (enjoyed it), Harsh Times (enjoyed it), Borat (eh), Babel (enjoyed it), The Departed (enjoyed it), Rocky Balboa (disappointing, but better than V, which isn’t saying much), Bobby (enjoyed it), The Fountain (enjoyed it), Deja Vu (enjoyed it), Stranger Than Fiction (enjoyed it), and others I can’t think of right now.

    Mainstream schlock? Every single one. Mindless entertainment? Yes. “…some honest-to-God relevance to the world of cinema.” Not one of them. Do they need to be? Do you really watch movies hoping they’ll have some relevance to the world of cinema?

    When was the last time you watched a film that had what you claim to call actual “merit?” Anything that was actually relesed in 2006?

    I don’t watch movies to be enlightened. I don’t watch movies that will hopefully change my life. I don’t watch movies to evolve. I don’t watch movies for anything other than pure entertainment. I’ve watched movies and laughed, cried, been enraged, been bored out of my mind, walked out of , fell asleep, wondered why I bothered, etc.

    If I want to be enlightened, I’ll pick up a book by Michael Bakunin, Jared Diamond, Peter Nabokov, bell hooks (whose f*****g lower-case letters bug the s**t out of me), Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Arundhati Roy, Robert Baer, Vine Deloria, Jr., Charles Wilkinson, Ward Churchill, etc.

    Someone shoot me the day I say I’m going to a movie to be enlightened and to better myself as a human being..

    Here’s a deal I will make with you: I’ll stop watching s**t films as soon as you stop watching and defending “American Idol.”

    And I’m a f*****g “tool” because I’m honest about the movies I choose to watch and “defend?” Sssshhhhhiiiiiit.

    As for Ms. 45? Do yourself a favor, shoot yourself in the foot, and wake up. Then blog about it, I think I would enjoy reading about you and Ms. 45. Again, your courage makes us champions.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

    Celebrity Watchdog Watson, out.

  2. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    At least you have standards. I respect that about your writing. You have high standards, and its a good safeguard.

    People love to call films “Amazing,” and justify seeing bad movies with “They can’t all be classics.”

    Good for you for sticking to your guns. I’ll keep doing the same for s**t like “Jackass 2.”

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