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This week:

The Beach

Filthy says:
"It's pretty
piss poor"


"The Beach" is not an awful film, but it's not very good either. It is not incompetent, or evil or poorly made, but it is a silly morality play that wusses out on the moral. It's also the second movie in the past few months made by the British with American money about how Americans are rude, obnoxious and liars, and when we go overseas we fuck shit up for everyone. Making a movie about this is every Brit's fucking wet dream.

I'm not going to argue with this sentiment because arguing with Brits is like fighting with peat moss, but the observation certainly isn't new. Plus, it sounds like sour grapes coming from limeys, a people who fucked up their own empire and are obnoxious in their own right. What kills me is that a bunch of dumbshit Hollywood executives okayed this movie, giving money to the Brits to point out how obnoxious we are. For fuck's sake, the studios should give me $1,000 and I'll give them all the footage they want from the Arvada Tavern that proves once and for all that we're numbnuts.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the typical dumb American who thinks he's different from all the other dumb Americans who travel to Thailand. He talks too much, most of that being in voiceovers that are a tedious way to cheat us out of seeing real action. Our tourist boy wants a different experience and lucks into it when a goofy junkie overacted by Robert Carlyle gives him a map to the perfect beach, a secret beach that nobody is supposed to know about. The Carlyle kills himself. I guess the moviemakers thought that if their movie was going to pivot on a plot contrivance such as a secret map given away for no reason, then it should be so loud and brash that the audience will be too annoyed to think about the logic.

Much to the glee of his countrymen, English director Danny Boyle shows DiCaprio as unbelievably stupid and loudmouthed. Before he heads for the island, he not only invites a couple of Frogs to join him, but also leaves another copy of the map with two even louder Americans. He only invites the Frenchies, both of whose characters are seriously underdeveloped, because he has the hots for one of them, Virginie Ledoyen, even though she's traveling with her boyfriend, Guillaume Canet. DiCaprio and the Frenchies make it to the island, only to discover a vast field of pot cultivated by killer Thai farmers stands between them and The Beach. In a lame and anti-climactic sequence, they escape the farmers and reach the Beach.

It's already populated by a clan of extremely conservative hippies. Now, for me, a bunch of hippies strumming guitars is enough to send me back to Bangkok. But, DiCaprio is just a stupid kid who thinks hippies in thatched huts mean paradise. He and the Frogs blend into the community and we get an hour-long pictorial of how Club Med would be without jet-skis or electricity. DiCaprio is told that although he can stay, no more people are welcome or the dope farmers will kill them all. DiCaprio lies and says nobody else has seen the map.

A few fake scares are thrown in to keep the audience from falling asleep. A bunch of Swede hippies get eaten by a shark. DiCaprio and Ledoyen have sex and her boyfriend steps out of the way after a very boring confrontation. We see Ledoyen's boobs for about three seconds, too, but they're shrouded in moonlight (not worth the price of admission, teen boys). While the two of them are on a trip back to Bangkok for tampons, batteries and rice, the hippie leader, Tilda Swinton, screws DiCaprio after she learns he lied about the map. Then the Frenchie learns that DiCaprio is a liar and cheated on her, so she says "fuck you."

Here is where the movie should have worked, by showing this paradise community destroyed by a bunch of back-stabbing pussies and liars. I guess, though, that would make this "Lord of the Flies," a better story.

Finally, just about when the audience is pretty sick of the exotic beauty and no action (like being at a "no-touch" strip club), the other dumb Americans with the map reach an adjacent island and prepare to paddle the rest of the way. Swinton makes DiCaprio keep a fulltime lookout to make sure they don't swim across the strait and reach The Beach.

DiCaprio is alone on his lookout, and suddenly goes mad. It's the craziest thing. One minute he's a big whiny baby, and the next he is a big whiny nut reenacting scenes from "Apocalypse Now" and pretending he is a snake in the bushes. If the movie explained how this happened. I missed it. What's worse is this insane period is just ridiculous. DiCaprio thinks he's in a big video game. He hoots a lot. He sneaks up on the farmers while they sleep. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch. I wanted the movie to end before it all got loopier. But it doesn't.

The dumb kids arrive, and with DiCaprio's help the farmers kill them. The farmers go to tell the hippies they broke the agreement and have to leave. Suddenly, our little boy is sane again. He's still whiny, though. The farmers give the hippies an ultimatum, either kill DiCaprio, whom they know is a troublemaker, or leave. Against the will of the other hippies, Tilda Swinton decides she'd rather kill DiCaprio (who can blame her) than give up the land. In another painful scene to watch, big baby DiCaprio runs and screams and hides behind women, rather than be shot. Swinton pulls the trigger of a gun supplied by the farmers, but the chamber's empty.

No matter, the hippies realize that if people have to die, the innocence is lost and there is no paradise. They all return to their homes all over the world, including DiCaprio. Back in the States, the movie tells us that DiCaprio is now to be rewarded with a relatively normal life for his cowardice, stupidity and lying.

And that's pure bullshit. The movie sets us up not to like DiCaprio, and believe me when I say we don't. The movie pounds home the concept that he always lies, he always makes the bad decision and he's too fucking full of himself. He's practically a cartoon character. Then, without any irony, it lets him live and be happy and we're supposed to be glad. Fuck it. If Boyle and writer John Hodge want us to hate this guy, we will, but kill him. Otherwise, what's the fucking moral?

The movie does two things very well. It looks like a million bucks. I mean, the cinematography is just fantastic. One scene of three small hot air balloons rising from the island was so breathtaking it made me stop wishing for more shots of Ledoyen's tits. The scenes in the urban cities also pulsate and feel interesting, maybe even more interesting than The Beach. The movie also shows the hippies thinking they have created paradise powered by loads of dope-smoking, but all the while they can't escape the customs and norms that have been pounded into them. They are jealous, petty and only pretending to be at peace. Their lifestyle is effectively shown as superficial and not capable of surviving real conflict, and I enjoyed watching that. It's exactly what I've suspected about hippies for a long time.

But they don't interact. Why not make the movie about how an American arrives and splits these otherwise peaceful people? Why not develop the characters in front of our faces then having to bring all these outside forces in to create conflict? I don't have a fucking clue, and all we're left with is a cast of characters who all have one trait and are hard to distinguish.

If this is paradise, why do all the ladies wear so many damn clothes? If I'm ever stranded on an island with this many hotties, you can bet the first thing I'll do is burn all their clothes. Then I will use subliminal messages to get them to have sex with each other.

Is DiCaprio a good actor? Maybe, as long as he isn't required to do much. He used to play a retard real good, but he sure doesn't carry this movie. The "insane" scenes are awkward partially because he looks like a kid playacting. One thing's for sure, this is the last time anyone's gonna give him $20 million bucks to be in a movie.

It's two fingers. It's sort of like me after eight Schlitz at the Arvada Tavern: it looks great, it talks real loud, it wants to be philosophical, but it's all just hot air. And I sure as hell wouldn't pay seven bucks to watch me.

Now go to the Second Annual Filthies

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