©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:

Filthy says:
"Sex so boring it'll make my ex's forget me."

I heard from a lot of new readers this past week. Apparently Stephen King writes for Entertainment Weekly and mentioned me in his column. I'm not sure exactly what he said, but whatever it was attracted the readers who like to correct strangers. It's funny that people can read something for the first time, and immediately think they're old pals with the privilege of nitpicking. Maybe I just give off the vibe that I need the brain dumps of know-it-alls. Folks, read for a month before you start bitching about my inaccuracies. You'll probably get fed up with me before the time's up, and that'll save me from reading a lot of e-mail. If you can endure four weeks, you've definitely earned the right to complain.

What does amaze me is that someone rich and famous reads my movie reviews. I always figured those people had access to some better Internet that I wasn't part of. I never thought they'd be out here in the garbage dump with the rest of us, picking through coffee rinds and dirty diapers for bits of news and entertainment. I assumed the wealthy have a secret web where information is reliable, sites don't have MIDI versions of "The Entertainer" continuously playing, and the "For Better or For Worse" fansites actually get updated.

I just figured the rich have a better way to do everything. I know some ways they do. Like they have access to toast more incredibly delicious than we prols can ever imagine. And people to sleep for them. Or how the superrich eat babies and have better toothpaste. But if they still have to read my horseshit for entertainment then money really doesn't buy much, and their lives aren't so great.

Still, it's pretty nice to get praised by someone people actually admire. Thanks, Mr. King. That was certainly nicer than what Mrs. Filthy said to me after I took her to see Kinsey. It's the movie equivalent of a short, thick-legged coffee table: sturdy and squat, but not good for much besides resting your feet on. This thing's as fucking stolid as a South Dakota farmer and stuffy as a Texas Methodist church meeting. Strange, you might think, that they could have made the subject of sex so boring. Then again, you never slept my ex-girlfriends. Actually, I'm know some of you did.

In this biopic, Liam Neeson plays Alfred Kinsey, an entomologist who realized there was very little good documentation of how we fuck and set about to change that. With rigid scientific principles and guidelines, he set out to document the range of activities by interviewing thousands and thousands of people about their sex lives. He then documented his findings in the book "Sexual Behavior of the American Male," which sold tons of copies and shocked people for covering taboo subjects like masturbation, homosexuality and infidelity. His steady wife (Laura Linney) sticks by him as he is celebrated, hung out to dry by a conservative majority, and ultimately finds peach with himself (of course). The movie follows his life from his puritan upbringing under a comically bad John Lithgow to his sex studies to his fall into despair and discredit. Of course, there's a corny redemption accompanied by a swell of the schmaltzy string soundtrack.

Kinsey feels like all those big, earnest Oscar movies that Hollywood cranks out about this time of year. Like A Beautiful Mind or the other attempts they've made to biograph some outsider, it is so fucking intent on being serious and high-minded that it rarely entertains. Instead, it plays this game of connect-the-dots. The dots are turning points in Kinsey's life, and the movie connects them with obvious pop psychology, and stops at each for big speeches and moments of profound discovery. His father is a prude, so the son decides to be a libertine. Later, we learn the father is such a prick because he wore a tight belt as a kid. Apparently, if not for that, he would have been a swinger. As we all would be; it's only natural. Playing everything out through big moments is like visiting a loved one in prison: you can see them through the glass and you feel rushed to say everything important, but you can't ever get intimate. And you wonder, why did I like Dad again? He looks terrible in that jumpsuit.

Kinsey was pretty creepy, actually. He completely confused urge with morality and mostly ignored needs he couldn't define scientifically, like affection. He allowed his staff to fuck each other's spouses and entangled himself in a gay relationship outside his marriage. This is all clinically covered by the movie. But the scenes aren't authentic. They're stagey, full of monologues and proclamations that nobody ever really says. They feel too obviously like large chunks of Kinsey's decision-making process compressed into speeches. I guess that's fine in a textbook, but it makes the characters less human and involving.

Neeson is good, I guess. It's pretty hard to tell because he doesn't get to do much with all the time he has. There are so very few small moments. Linney gets royally screwed as the wife. There is an attempt to show her as independent and free thinking, but mostly she has to grimace modestly. As the research assistants, Peter Saarsgard does an excellent Ewan McGregor impersonation, Timothy Hutton looks like he's storing nuts for winter, and Chris O'Donnell reminds why we don't see him in movies much. Holy shit, they should be writing lunch specials on his face for as flat and blank as it is. The cherry goes to John Lithgow, though. He doesn't have a lot of screen time, but he looks hellbent on getting all the acting he can into them. His character is corny, sure, but hamming it up sure doesn't help.

A better movie wouldn't have been so fucking grand in scope. Maybe corner a piece of Kinsey's life and tell it through the eyes of a human rather than the pages of a history book. Kinsey was creepy and while the movie points it out, it never delves into it. That's because then his redemption from despair wouldn't be nearly as satisfying. And if you want to win an Oscar, you better have a redeeming ending.

Kinsey is the kind of shit the cockroaches in Hollywood feast on at awards time. It feels sort of controversial without really being so, which means a vote for it is safe and gives the voter smug satisfaction, like he's somehow being subversive. It's got a massive, pompous musical score. It's also the phony uplifting story of an underdog. I swear to God, the only way those grassfuckers know how to give something to the little people is by congratulating themselves for doing so. Two Fingers for Kinsey, unless you love big, talky Oscar bait. Then give it Five Satuettes right up the ass.


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Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times

After the Sunset is "An unalloyed delight that's pure entertainment! Filled with romance, adventure, humor, action, suspense, beautiful scenery and beautiful people!"

Filthy's Reading
Edited by Michael Chabon - McSweeney's Mammoth Book of Chilling Tales

Listening to
The Fall - 50,000 Fall Fans Can't be Wrong


Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla