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Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.
State and Main
"Welcome to Awards Season."
Today is Christmas and the earth is blanketed white outside.
Light, gauzy snowflakes slowly drift by my window. Through the
wall, I hear a holiday movie playing in my neighbor's apartment,
and the property manager draped red tinsel over the banister
in the stairwell. Yes, it's Christmas outside, two kids just
went by on a sled pulled by their dad and they were all bundled
up and laughing. The streets are empty, everyone is with his
family or tucked away next to a stoked fire.
I would be too, if my mom weren't such a ballbuster and didn't
send me home. I mean, why bother inviting me if you're just gonna
send me home with an empty tomach? Not that I care. I'm glad
I don't have to spend Christmas with her or my sisters, or my
dad or my wife. I'm thrilled I got to come home early and leave
them to eat the Christmas dinner and play Life and drink Carlo
Rossi wine. I'm glad my mom gets all worked up just because she
doesn't think it's funny to stuff the mashed potatoes down my
slacks. My retard cousin Larry laughed his fucking ass off, and
he was the only person I cared about because he was the only
other person besides me placed at the "children's"
And I'm glad I got drunk early because I was plenty warm walking
home. Who needs fucking family on Christmas? Who needs a wife
that won't stand by her man when nobody else will? Note to
Mrs. Filthy (whenever you get home): It's easy to jump on the
bandwagon and yell "Get the potatoes out of your pants!"
but it takes a much stronger woman to say "My husband is
right! That's where those potatoes belong."
Jesus Christ was born so that families would be more tolerant
with people like me. His whole message is "Love everyone,
and let them do whatever they want, including ruining Christmas
dinner, and turn the other cheek and shit too." But, my
mom and my wife are about as Christ-like as a dog humping a fence
Well, sitting here alone in the dark on Christmas Day gives
me plenty of time to think about the movies I saw this weekend.
State and Main is high-brow and Cast Away
is middle-brow, and both are pretty mediocre.
State and Main is David Mamet's latest. I love the
guy. He almost single-handedly made the word "fuck"
into poetry in Glengarry Glen Ross. I once wrote a poem
that consisted only of variations of "fuck" but while
Mamet got praised, my third-grade teacher sent me to the principal.
So, Mamet's a better writer than me. Mamet also wrote and directed
The Spanish Prisoner and House of Games, a pair
of good fun-house-mirror flicks. Renting those would be a much
better time than watching State and Main. It's one of
those arthouse romantic comedies that's not very funny, not very
romantic, but gets the snooty pricks thinking they're pretty
fan-fucking-tastic because they "get it."
William Macy is a director making a movie titled "The
Old Mill" in Waterford, Vermont. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
is the screenwriter searching for purity, Alec Baldwin is the
box-office star with a penchant for teen girls, and Sarah Jessica
Parker is the actress wo won't show her tits. As the film crew
runs roughshod over the town, Baldwin involves himself with local
high-schooler Julia Stiles. Hoffman falls in love with a local
bookstore owner and that pisses off her fiance, an ambitious
local politician who gets his revenge by going after Baldwin
and his Lolita and trying to shut down the movie.
Meanwhile, the movie production has to reconcile its title
with the fact that the town's mill burned down 40 years ago,
and Hoffman and Macy have to deal with the high-maintenance Parker,
who will fuck anything that moves but only show her tits for
an additional $800,000. Good fucking gravy, for that much I'll
show my dick to anyone that asks--anywhere, anytime.
State and Main is a good idea for a movie, but Mamet
goes about it pretty sloppily. Maybe he's too pleased with himself
for making fun of Hollywood, totally unaware of the mass of shitty
Hollywood satires that have already been made by film-school
students desperate for attention. I noticed a lot of little details
that the usually tight-assed Mamet wouldn't let slip by. For
example, one gag is that the film crew misses a dinner with the
town mayor, pissing his wife off. The dinner date is written
on a big calendar, accidentally erased, then rewritten under
the same day. Later, the same board shows the dinner written
on a different date, and then finally, it's shown on the wrong
date, with the original erased in a different way than was shown
earlier. It's a little detail, I know, but it's fucking annoying,
sloppy and indicative of a rushed production.
The worst slop is the slapdash ending, a collection of lazy
mechanical devices to wrap the story up and let Mamet pat himself
on the back for being so witty. The bastard expects us to believe
that a movie producer would bring $800,000 in cash all the way
from Hollywood to Vermont to pay an actress. Right. Don't they
have banks and agents in L.A. to handle that shit? And, we're
expected to believe that Hoffman is put through an elaborate
bogus "trial" to get him to purge himself so he can
remember what "purity" means, and that pretty much
everyone but him is involved in this stunt. It's corny and lazy,
like Mamet wrote the last thirty minutes in twenty minutes. How
can he make fun of Hollywood while using their cheap stunts?
State and Main's jokes are mostly unfunny. The story's
plenty busy and it's loaded with "insider" references
to how Hollywood works, but the only people in the theater who
laughed were the NPR-listening, PBS-subscribing assholes who
have dedicated their lives to making sure everyone sitting near
them knows how clever they are. He even employs corny, stale
gags, such as two hick farmers reading Variety and talking grosses.
Maybe it's supposed to be a love story, but that story ain't
so hot either. Hoffman and Rebecca Pidgeon don't really have
much chemistry. Pidgeon is the typical pure local girl who wants
to start up the old newspaper and knows what honesty really is.
Hoffman is a painful stereotype of the yutz screenwriter. He's
supposed to be conflicted, but he's only wishy-washy and pathetic.
I don't want to pay to see two people I don't care about fall
in love. I can see unlikable people fall in love every day at
the Arvada Tavern. And, as an added bonus, I can see them fall
out of love and beat the shit out of each other out by the dumpster.
It's a shame because Hoffman is such a fucking great actor.
So are Pidgeon and Macy. But Mamet just has them run around spouting
"witty" dialog. Caricatures with witty dialog. Two
I bet my family is eating dinner right now. I hope someone
chokes on a ham bone. I'm so fucking glad to be home alone, without
all them talking in my ear. I can watch whatever I please on
the TV, and nobody is telling me how disappointed in me they
are, or for being drunk, or for spilling the Spanish peanuts.
I'll just stay right here and have my own Christmas.
In contrast to State and Main's fancy-pants, Cast Away
is not out to tickle the clits of any intamullectual phonies.
It's the movie equivalent of meat and potatoes, like all of Robert
Zemeckis's movies. Simplified fare.
Tom Hanks is the pot roast, a filling piece of meat of an
actor. Not too spicy, gourmet or exotic, please, because that
upsets America's tummy. In Cast Away, Hanks is an efficiency
expert for Fed Ex, and holy fuck are they efficient. At least,
that's what this movie wants us to believe. It wants us to believe
that Jesus was delivered in Bethlehem by a Fed Ex courier who
was ahead of schedule. Mary and Joseph opened the box and there
was our savior. Fed Ex is just that fucking good.
On Christmas Eve, something is jamming the Fed Ex conveyor
belt on the other side of the world. Hanks must leave his soon-to-be
fiance (the always-annoying, bird-faced Helen Hunt--she'll peck
your eyes out, swear to God) and hop a plane so he can shove
a broomstick in the Malaysian equipment and get Fed Ex humming
again. In flight, the plane hits a storm and crashes into the
ocean. It's later explained that it was probably some improperly-labeled
hazardous material that caused the accident (God forbid Fed Ex
be responsible in their own two-hour commercial.)
Hanks is the only survivor of the crash, he washes up on a
deserted island with along with some Fed Ex boxes and a raft.
When nobody finds him, he learns how to make tools, store water,
catch fish, build fire and lose weight. He pines for Hunt, and
you know solitude is bad when you dream of a prickly dame like
her. For four years, he lives alone on the island before making
a desperate attempt to escape.
Once back in the real world, Hanks finds his sweetie has gone
off, starred in a shitty sitcom with Paul Reiser, then married
a dentist and had a baby. Hanks is confused by what he thought
was true love when he can't have her. In fact, the only people
who are really glad to see him are the folks at Fed Ex, because
they are great and they invented everything good.
Cast Away is expertly made, maybe too expertly. It's
so polished and pretty, and so desperate to have everything neatly
in its place that it doesn't reflect real life or its messes.
It would rather resolve neatly than actually have some emotional
impact. But, shit howdy does it look pretty. Zemeckis and William
Broyles, Jr. are definitely very good at directing and writing
blockbuster movies (respectively). They even understand how much
damage it would do their bottom line if they made this movie
about how Americans are too obsessed with time, gadgets, and
talking. So, it's a slick movie without much to say except that
you shouldn't worry about getting stuck on an island because
when you get back you'll find a new pretty girl.
Hanks is very good and solid. He'll probably win a bunch of
awards because he is famous, not very obnoxious and he lost a
lot of weight. Hell, if his character was a retarded grocery-store
clerk stuck on an island they could give him the Oscar now. I
bet Zemeckis is kicking himself right now for not thinking of
that. Hunt does not die in the movie, which is bad, but she's
not in it very much, which is good. And she only gets to cry
The plane crash scene is spectacular. It's a very real, tense
descent into the ocean. And so are Hanks first days on the island,
where he learns the survival basics and explores some beautiful
property that will someday house a Club Med. Once we've seen
enough of Hanks building fire and cracking coconuts, though,
the movie doesn't have much to say about solitude and isolation.
Instead, Cast Away has Hanks invent more shit. When there
is no more shit to invent, the movie skips ahead three years.
Where it could have been thoughtful it would rather distract
us with cave paintings, rain and a volleyball that Hanks talks
Once back in civilzation, Hanks is amazed at how easy lighting
a fire or turning on a light is, but the movie doesn't dare say
anything more than "Wow." The one attempt at significance
is when Hanks has a long, awkward monologue that spells out what
we're supposed to learn (which nullifies the lesson) about frailty,
mortality and our need for companionship. Once again, Hollywood
is afraid to let us draw conclusions, choosing to tell us instead.
Then it voids out any possible interpretations by drawing the
story tight, and making the ending artificially happy.
I think a movie about a guy stranded on an island for four
years should say more than that he misses his girl and gets sad
when she isn't waiting for him. For fuck's sake, I'm lonely after
four hours without my wife. Where the hell is my wife? She better
not be having a good time at my parents'. I bet they're telling
her jokes about me.
I wonder if anyone's eating my food, or if they will save
it in case I come back.
The ending sums up how Hollywood can throw a ton of money
and a lot of expertise at a profound idea and turn it into something
pretty dull. Hanks is sad and confused in the real world. Luckily,
though, he finds a replacement for Hunt pretty damn easily. That
is so we can leave the theater not worrying about whether a fictitious
character will be okay. Thank God, Hanks is happy. Thank God,
none of the messiness of life caught up with him.
One other note: On the island, Hanks hangs onto one
Fed Ex box that washes up onto the shore. We know where it comes
from because it has a special marking on it from a sender shown
at the beginning of the movie. Once Hanks makes it to civilization,
he delivers the package. What a good Fed Ex worker, delivering
a package after four years at sea.
But, the jackass doesn't take it to the recipient, he returns
it to the sender (who conveniently turns out to be hot). You
can sure as hell bet I'd be pissed off if Fed Ex held my package
for four years and then was all proud of themselves when they
delivered it back to me. Some efficiency expert Hanks is. Three
fingers for Cast Away.
I'm sick of this. I'm going over to my parents. They can go
ahead and make fun of me. I'll even apologize, though I wasn't
wrong. It's sad what loneliness will make a man do.
to tell Filthy something?