This week:
Hart's War

Filthy says: "Okay... for a while."

When you're unemployed as long as I've been, the government stops including you in their statistics. Every month, I wait for the unemployment numbers to come out for Colorado and the country. It's the only time I can point at the paper and say to Mrs. Filthy, "See! I'm making a difference." Now I'm not even doing that. Apparently, the unemployment figure represents people who want jobs and can't get them, not those of us who aren't even trying. If you don't get a job for a while, they figure you aren't even trying and just dump your sorry ass from the numbers. Man, oh man: I'm too fucking lazy even to qualify for unemployment statistics. So what am I? Where am I in the facts and figures? Do I even exist? I bet they probably lump me in some category called "losers and jerks" that they don't show to the general public. It's like some statistic they keep just in case there's an emergency among the rich and they need to harvest a bunch of kidneys quick. I resent being classified with the losers and jerks, though, because I'm not like the rest of them. They clump me with the junkies, ne'er-do-wells, the bottom-feeding convicts and child molesters, and I'm better than that. There are tiers of loserdom, and I'm definitely in the upper-middle class of assholes.

Working people think that unemployment gives you a lot of time for introspection and thinking about shit. It's a chance to think about what you want out of life and a golden opportunity to create a plan, blah, blah, blah. Finally, a chance to contemplate success and failure and your place in the world. For the first four hours of unemployment that's true. You're motivated to prove you aren't worthless. You think about schemes to bust your old boss' legs without getting caught. Then, you spend about four hours thinking about getting another job. Then you get drunk and convince yourself to open a skate park for dogs. It sounds so fucking cool. Skating dogs would rule, except when you sober up you remember that dogs don't have money. Well, maybe some do, but you can bet your ass they're really stuck up poodles and Jack Russell Terriers. Then you watch "Judge Judy" for about 6000 hours and the God damn government gives up on you. You just disappear from the statistics. As though sitting at home in your underwear (sometimes) watching Judy tear new assholes means you don't exist.

Fuck Congress, fuck the senate and fuck the GAO. Someone has to keep the daytime Nielsen ratings up so out TV stations can make money for advertising. Someone has to get so bored he calls the operators at the Showtime Rotisserie and tells them dirty jokes. Somebody has to grow increasingly eccentric and detached from the real world or else this country will no longer be able to boast incredible diversity. And my reward is to be ignored. It's almost enough to make a guy try to get a job. But then I'd just be falling into their trap.

I didn't know what movie to see this week. It's February, a time when Hollywood buries its stinkers in the cineplexes. I didn't want to see Disney skullfuck the corpse of J. M. Barrie for a few more bucks. I almost went to Britney Spears' Crossroads, but decided to wait for a rumored DVD chock-a-block with nude scenes and hardcore anal action. Through random selection, I settled on Hart's War. This sucker reeks bad, like a movie some studio pinned a bunch of Oscar hopes on while it was still in production, only to find out that none of the performances were good enough, the direction isn't flashy enough, and the script is ultimately a confused mess. So, Warner Brothers treats it like a beaten Pole in the Stalin-era Soviet Union and discretely hides it in the frozen tundra of February.

Hart's War really isn't a bad movie... until the last twenty minutes. Then it's fucking awful and it pisses away any good will I had for the previous 100 minutes. Up until the end it's as dull and solid as a dinner table from Sears, but it isn't terrible.

Colin Farrell is Thomas Hart, a senator's son with a cushy job in World War II's European Theater until he is captured by the Germans. After confessing to a Nazi interrogator, he is sent to a Stalag where Bruce Willis is the ranking American officer. Farrell is immediately put on the shitlist because Willis knows he caved easily and gave away American secrets. Shortly after he arrives, two black pilots are sent to the Stalag and Farrell is assigned to protect them from racist fellow Americans. One is quickly framed for concealing a weapon and executed by the Nazis. Shortly after the other is found standing over the dead body of the biggest bigot of them all. Farrell, with two years of Yale law school, is assigned to defend the black man in a court martial. This is his opportunity to prove to Willis that he is an honorable soldier, and also the opening the movie needs to make several hypocritical speeches about racism. Proving his honor is the war the title is talking about, I think.

But I can't be sure because there is so much horseshit tacked onto the end that the plot and its messages crash into each other like derailed box cars. Whatever statements the movie wants to make get completely lost in the unnecessary twists and turns that are tacked on as elegantly as surcharges at a used car dealership.

Hart's War tries to cover too many dull formulas in one movie. It's a prisoner of war drama. No, it's a courtoom drama. No, it's a polemic on racism. No, wait, it's The Great Escape. It doesn't know what the fuck it is. And every time it changes its mind it throws the themes of the last story out the window. Early on, it makes a smart observation about the way blacks were treated in an Army supposedly fighting bigotry in Germany. Then it goes on to overstate the case, giving a cardboard black character a big, important and obvious speech. Once that's played out, the movie dumps that shit faster than Larry King after a trip to the Sizzler salad bar. Farrell's "war" turns out to be a shell game and he didn't even know it. How the fuck is he supposed to prove to Willis what an honorable guy he is when Willis doesn't give a flying fuck?

The story's loopy too. Apparently, winter days in Germany are about three minutes long because everything happens at night in the same bluish icy colors. Many characters do unexplained things, as though they are caught in the gears of a giant plot machine they'll never understand. And when he can't win Terrence Howard case, Farrell confesses to the murder and everyone says "Oh, okay, never mind the last seven days, then." We're expected to believe that Nazi colonels humored POW requests like a court martial jsut for thehell of it, and that the German soldiers were as dumb as "Hogan's Heroes'" Schultzie. "They see nutting! They see nutting!" But, worst of all is that we're supposed to believe Farrell is smart, and he urges his client to escape into the countryside. Yeah, brilliant. A black guy in 1945 Germany would blend right in. I'd want that guy defending me like I want those festering sores to reappear on my thighs.

Willis sucks. This is one of his dramatic roles where he just tacks on a steely gaze and speaks in low tones and we're expected to think that's intense. He's so flat he saps his scenes of life. Farrell is average and sturdy in his role. He's sort of like a JC Penney underwear model: you don't pay attention to him but the clothes would look pretty stupid without something to fill them. Marcel Iures probably could win a 4H trophy because he's a prizewinning ham as the Yale-educated, Duke Ellington-listening Nazi colonel. The poor sap doesn't have much choice, though, since the movie makes his principles change frequently to meet the plot's needs.

Two Fingers for Hart's War. Five Fingers for Filthy's War against the government for ignoring me.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
James M. Cain - Mildred Pierce

Listening to
David Byrne - Look Into the Eyeball

Ghost World

Hey, whore, how's the whoring? This week, the honor goes to:

Kevin Thomas of the LA Times keeps on whoring!

In A Walk to Remember "Mandy Moore and Shane West give winning portrayals!"

"At every turn," John Q "has the courage of its material!"

Storytelling is "A virtuoso work in every aspect !"

©2002 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All fucking rights reserved.