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


This week:

Filthy says:
"Sooooo cold, and so fucking boring!"

I had to travel halfway across Colorado by bus, 52 to 15 to the 40, to see Transsiberian. I started before it was dark, with nothing but a back pocket full of Red Vines and a front pocket full of Schlitz Malt Liquor. Actually, the hooch was gone by the time I was out of Arvada. Maybe I should have kept it in the bottle instead of pouring it into my pocket. Denim, it turns out, is woven loosely enough that beer molecules can escape through the mesh.

I spent two hours riding public transportation smelling like a drunk and looking like I'd wet myself. Actually, it worked out great; I fit right in. Especially on the 15. Plus, I really could wet myself and nobody could tell the difference. I didn't blend in so well at the artsy-fartsy Landmark Chez Artiste, a shithole of a theater. It's dingy, in a rundown strip mall and made up of musty, long, narrow theaters with small screens. The floors are sticky and the sound system shitty. The pre-show commercials are for snooty shit like Stella Artois beer, which doesn't get you any drunker than Hamm's, it just makes you feel more hoity-toity doing it. I never understood that, though. No matter how fancy the booze, the crapping-your-pants and puking feels the same. Now, if pricey beer made you shit strawberries and throw up beef tacos, well I'd be high-brow too. Anyway, the woman selling tickets commented on how I reeded of booze and urine. But, seeing as how I would be the only person in the theater, she'd let it slide.

At the beginning of Transsiberian, it says the movie was funded by the Lithuanian Film Society, and half the credits are Russian names. Some guy with a Spanish name is producer, and I'm pretty sure the descendants of the famed Leutonian band "The Happy Wanderers" did the over-the-top soundtrack. The story starts in Beijing, crosses Siberia and So, God damn, it really is a global effort. And it would warm my cockles if the results weren't so damn standard and based on stereotypes. Or if it didn't have Woody Harrelson in it.

Harrelson and Emily Mortimer play Iowans returning from a church mission in China. Because Harrelson is a big train buff, they take the six-day Transsiberian railway from Beijing to Moscow. Harrelson is a "gee-whiz" tourist, all extroverted American stereotype, while Mortimer is quiet and sad-acting. We're supposed figure out early on that their marriage is sort of rocky. Soon, they are joined in their ratty berth by a younger couple: a greasy-looking Spaniard (Eduardo Noriega) and a young Seattlean (Kate Mara) with a passion for excess mascara. The movie ladles on the red herrings like nacho sauce at the ballgame. Quickly, we're told something isn't right with the couple. Gee, I wonder if all the foreshadowing with the drug-sniffing dogs and the opening scene with Ben Kingsley playing a KGB-style drug detective are some sort of clue.

Eventually, as always happens in these movies, Mortimer falls for the Spaniard and her trust is broken when he puts the drugs he's smuggling into her bags. Kingsley pursues. But guess what? He's not exactly what he seems either. The problem is not with that plot point, but with Mortimer's actions. She gets herself into deep shit by making a series of confoundingly bad decisions. She is supposed to be scared, but I honestly can't even imagine the most desperate dope doing the things she does. I can imagine a desperate screenwriter doing them to get his story to bend to his will, but I didn't buy her character and quickly lost interest. I had being dragged by a chain behind a story with unseen locomotion.

Other than to say it's fucking cold and the people are dicks, I'm not sure why Transsiberian takes place where it does. There are a lot of shots of snow to remind us that someone's nuts are freezing off. The punch the point, it even shows a thermometer. Outside of one, the buildings are uninteresting and municipal-looking. The train is not used well. Mostly, we're crammed into a very tight, bland cabin, with an occasional trip to the dining car for vodka. But we rarely see out the window and even less often get a sense that the train is moving.

The third act of the movie is pretty damn silly and gory. Normally, I like those two things, but it's an abrupt change of pace here and not keeping in the earlier attempt for a more creeping terror kind of thing. It's over the top, forced and convoluted as hell like a bad John Woo movie when you have a runaway train, torture, unlikely getaways, etc. And then, in its denouement, it fucks up royally only the way Hollywood can. For most of the movie we're supposed to be appalled at the bad moral choices Mortimer backs herself into. In its last five minutes, the movie wants us to wash all that away with one hokey act that is improbable, but also in no fucking way compensation for all the horror she's brought upon others.

Transsiberian wants to be profound, it wants to be slow and dawdling because that's more artsy. In the end, though, it falls back on the same old ploy of using big action to mask its flaws, and the confusion that almost any moral transgression can be monetarily compensated. Two Fingers: it ain't worth the journey.

By the way, if anyone can find a dog as fucking awesome as my girl Sophie was, let me know. I miss her dearly, but we want another one.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



The Shameless Pete Hammond, now of "Back Stage"

Everybody Wants to be Italian is "A real charmer! In the tradition of My Big Fat Greek Wedding!"

Is Pete Hammond the last quote whore standing? I'm sorta gonna miss these guys.

Filthy's Reading
Junot Diaz- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Listening to
The Fluid - purplemetal-flakemusic


Creature Comforts