©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
The Italian Job

Filthy says:
"Soul is better than volume.

You know, Father's Day is coming and it's probably the hardest of the make believe holidays for a young man to celebrate. I'd say it's harder than Grandparents Day, secretary's Day or even Kwanza. Our relationship is way too complicated to fit into the prescribed sentiments of American Greetings. Don't get me wrong, I love my father, but like all of us, there are some things we don't agree on. Like my drinking. He really gives me a hard time about it, always complaining about how much I drink. He says I'm a pussy for not drinking more. "Real men don't wake up sober. What's the matter, Son, can't handle your turpentine anymore?" Or something like that, I don't know. It's pretty hard to understand what he's saying through the tracheotomy tube, especially when he's loaded to the gills.

Just like any father and son, we fight. Not as much with our fists anymore because he's getting on in years and you just don't punch an old man; you pull his hair. Because you love him. But Target doesn't sell Father's Day cards that say, " I know sometimes I hide your bedpan, but I still love you." And all the ones that say "I'm sorry I suckerpunched you in church" on the cover don't say, "But I was right" on the inside.

The cards are full of sentiments that no human could feel. Maybe a perfectly rendered replicant that received its emotional education from Patch Adams, but not anyone I know. I cringe just looking at them dreading having to pick something that couldn't possibly convey the complexity of my feelings. When I shop, there are women who read the cards, smile and nod their heads as if those crappy poems perfectly capture their feelings. I wonder, is it worse to pretend to be so simplistically sweet or to actually feel that way? In either case, after a half hour of picking through the bins, I gave up trying to express myself through the fraudulent words of Hallmark. I ended up just grabbing a card off the rack by the liquor store cash register. It's not a Father's Day card, exactly: on the front it's got this farm girl with huge knockers, and inside it says you can smother your face in them for your birthday. I'll scratch out the birthday stuff, sign my name and my dad will know what I mean. Sometimes a half-assed gesture expresses your feelings better than any poem ever could.

None of that has anything to do with this week's review, which should have been for Finding Nemo except that the Cinderella Drive-in isn't showing it yet. They're still showing The Matrix: Reloaded. What the hell? How many Friday nights are those greasy comic book pigs going to get to borrow Mommy's car? How about those of us who like a good God damned family fucking movie once in a while? I settled for The Italian Job, a movie so meticulously and thoroughly cliched it's truly extraordinary. How in the world did two writers get credit for this shit? Shouldn't it rightfully go to the inventor of the Script-o-tron 3000? After all, he did all the work of inventing a machine that rehashes tired plot points, trite dialog, phony sentiment and arbitrary plot twists into "new" movies?

What a fucking big-budgeted snore, a movie filled with so much predictable action that it's impossible to care. The Italian Job stars many of Hollywood's most uninteresting stars: the charisma-free Mark Wahlberg whose face looks more pinched than an infant in an Alzheimer's Ward; the too-boring-to-lust-after Charlize Theron, who gives her performances the zip and sizzle of a K-Mart circular; and the always whiny Edward Norton. For comic relief, the makers even brought in the unimaginative man's Steve Zahn, Seth Green. He's, surprise, surprise, a computer-whiz/doofus who can't get laid. Seriously. That's the low level of originality running through this horseshit.

The men (sans Theron) heist $35 million in gold from Venice, Italy, but before the day is done, Norton double-crosses his compadres, kills Wahlberg's father-figure Donald Sutherland and leaves the rest for dead. Of course, they survive or there'd be no movie. Fuck, I wish they had died.

A year later, Wahlberg learns of Norton's whereabouts and wants to steal the gold back. Not for the money, you see, but to teach Norton a lesson. Honor among thieves and all. To steal it, he needs a master safecracker. Enter Theron, Sutherland's daughter, who cracks safes as well as her father. Except, naturally she has a heart of gold and only does it for the police. She's still grieving for her father, and agrees to join the heist only so she can "see the look on (Norton's) face."

To make a long story short, after a long and boring series of arbitrary obstacles are put in the way, Wahlberg and company steal the gold back in a daring, action-packed climax that includes a car chase, explosives and a "surprise" double-cross. Holy shit, they even have the obligatory car chase through the dry Los Angeles River bed. The movie is probably enough to surprise or excite Eskimos living in remote villages. For me, not being Eskimo, it's a big fucking turd.

The movie religiously adheres to the heist-movie formula so religiously that no air gets in. The characters are all standard: the cool revenge-minded leader who, of course, falls in love with the beautiful girl; the computer-geek comic relief; the blandly hip black guy; the pretty girl who might as well be wallpaper; the weaselly bad guy who kills when nobody else does. The Italian Job actually goes out of its way to make sure there's nothing original, no twists, no surprises and no jokes we haven't seen and heard before. To its credit, it does it efficiently, so you hardly notice. At least not until you've left the theater and try to remember any details.

What's most disturbing is how crappy the characterizations are. They are the lazy shorthand of moviemakers who only know what they see. But, what's so fucking bad is that they know we've seen all this before and just sort of give everything the short shrift, like saying, "He's a crook with honor, blah, blah, blahÖ" Why in the fuck should we care about whether Mark Wahlberg gets his gold? He's a thief with the charm of a State Farm Insurance agent? He has absolutely nothing else going for him; no history and no personality beyond what is mandated to get the story to a car chase. Theron is the other one we're supposed to root for, but who gives a burning piss for a crybaby whose only way of dealing with grief is by teaming up with crooks. She's not deep enough to give a shit about. And I sure as hell ain't cheering for yet another whiz-bang computer nerd whose whole job is to magically fill in plot holes the scriptwriters couldn't figure out.

It's a well-made bad movie. It's efficient and has confidence in its blandness. It's loud and brash enough to be confused for cool. But those are the characteristics that frat guys use to win the hearts of insecure sorority girls, not what I pay eight bucks for. Two Fingers for The Italian Job.

I'll be taking next week off. A little vacation, which means I know in advance that I will be too hung over to write this garbage. And now, so do you. In my absence, I thought we could play a game: If you do not write to call me a lazy fuck or ask me if I am going to write a review of the The Matrix: Reloaded, give yourself one point. If you do send e-mail about either of those issues, subtract one point. The person with the most points wins! StartingÖ Now!

Want to tell Filthy Something



Mike Cidoni of WOKR TV

The Italian Job is "Four stars! The sleeper smash of the season: an instant crime-caper classic! A senstaional side-splitting sensation!"

Filthy's Reading
Erik Larson- The Devil in the White City

Listening to
Electric Six - Fire


The Lady Vanishes