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This week:
White Noise

Filthy says:
"Boo! No, seriously, boooooooooo."

January again, and that means Hollywood will treat our eyes like porta-johns at a Phish concert, onto which they can spew out a rainbow of tainted bile and shit out the bad mushrooms. Then, while still clinging to the bowl, the grassfuckers stretch out a bony hand and utter "Where's my ten dollars, maaaaan?"

This is the time of year when those jackasses in Hollywood are waiting to receive golden dildos from their peers for doing their God damn jobs. They can't be bothered to put together anything decent between releasing the only movies they are proud of and getting patted on the back for them. And in the low-attendance months of winter, Hollywood turns raw product into shit faster than a Sizzler.

White Noise is so fucking bad in so many ways that I bet using that title feels to Don Delillo the way it would to me if some medical instrument company named its new rectal scraper "The Filthy Critic". Sure, "white noise" has been used to describe a million things, but this radioactive turd is so potent it retroactively taints everything within its range.

Michael Keaton plays an unappealing, self-absorbed yuppie with a blond wife whose ass he likes to videotape and who writes trashy romance novels. They live in a ritzy bay mansion with a gated driveway to keep out all the upwardly aspiring assholes who someday dream of such superficial examples of success. They are preparing to celebrate the conception of another whiny, unattended, spoiled child when she dies, apparently while changing her tire on a steep gravelly coastal embankment. I guess she's smart enough to write bestsellers and try changing her tire by herself, but too fucking stupid to have even the slightest clue where to do it. Also, too fucking stupid to call her husband on her prominently displayed cellphone to tell him she's having car trouble and will be late. At every turn, the movie strains credulity the way Candy Bottoms' strains the seams of her size 4 bustiers.

Distraught over the loss of his trophy wife and her tight ass, Keaton mopes through his stylish architecture career for a while before the movie completely forgets he ever had a job. He moves from his mansion into a new, fancy eye-candy apartment and gets involved with a crackpot (Ian McNeice) who claims to be able to record the dead speaking to him through the white noise on static channels. McNeice doesn't ask for money, yet he drives a new Land Rover. This is because the movie is more interested in displaying aspirational products for materialistic assholes than it is in making sense.

Keaton immediately believes that some stranger can recognize his wife's voice from a snippet in static and know exactly who she is and how to contact her husband. He doesn't question the thousands of other potential causes of the voice messages. He then buys an Ab-Cruncher and forwards an e-mail to all his friends that promises $500 from Bill Gates if they forward it on.

I should mention the movie starts out trying to legitimize itself with some quotes about how hearing the dead in static is an "increasing phenomenon" and one that is receiving serious scientific inquiry. Well, good; someone's gotta keep the In Search of... crew busy. Anyway, even if you take that bullshit claim at face value, the movie proceeds to make a mockery of science, pseudo-science, plausibility and even probably pisses off the peanut-butter fuckers who listen to George Noory from the homemade pyramids in their basements.

Which brings me to something that cheeses me. White Noise claims to be about some shit called E.V.P., electronic voice phenomenon. But the movie is mostly about people seeing ghost images on TVs, seeing specters and electronics turning themselveson and off. That's not E.V.P., it's B.H.M.C., Bad Horror Movie Cliches. And if these ghosts are smart enough to send pictures over airwaves, why aren't they smart enough to transmit a decent signal? Hell, they can probably get their own cable channel. Golf can. How can the afterworld be so great as these ghosts keep claiming if everything looks like the scrambled porn channels? Seriously, I thought heaven is when that shit would finally be free.

After the death of McNeice, Keaton goes on to try to contact his wife by himself. An amateur, he sets up his own small television lab made up exclusively of prominently labeled Sony recorders, TVs and computers, and begins obsessively recording what he thinks are empty channels. At first, he has no success, seeing and hearing only the static. And then, one day he gets something. A ghost image appears on one of his tapes. It is a woman, surrounded by the horrifying sounds of a crying child, ringing bells and barked orders from unseen men. She calls out through the darkness, begging and pleading for someone named Calgon to, please, take her away.

Emboldened by this discovery, Keaton discovers that at 2:30 a.m. every night, the exact time his wife died, he is receiving signals. He deduces that they come from living people in harm's way and it becomes his obsession to save them. Yes, that's right, the idea of hearing from the dead through white noise is reduced to yet another cornball story of a man trying to rescue unknown living people through scattered clues. Boring? You bet! But at least it saves us from another half hour of Keaton staring at TV screens.

Keaton slowly pieces together the bits of images and words he can translate from his recordings, all the while neglecting the young boy who plays his son and whose role in the movie is entirely pointless until the final, cheesy and retarded three minutes. Keaton learns of a group stranded. They are lost, unable to communicate with the outside world, and in constant fear of dying before being rescued. There is a cruel, fat man alternately terrorizing and encouraging the group. There is a wise man able to alleviate their plight through innovative uses of raw materials. Two women in the group are beautiful and the most in danger. Then there is a wan, jittery man who is most in danger and frequently calls out for mercy from the fat man. He cries, "Skipperrrrrrrr!" before leaping into a lagoon or pedaling off in a coconut powered golf cart. Keaton is desperate to save this misfit band, although he must confess, they make him laugh.

He tries to enlist the aid of a policeman and a platonic hottie who owns an independent bookstore and thought Keaton's first wife was a "wonderful writer." Yeah, those independent bookstore types are big on the Harlequin scene. It isn't until the end of the White Noise that a TV repairman reveals the truth to Keaton; that it's just bad reception and Gilligan's Island was cancelled over 30 years before.

This is, of course, an approximation of what actually happens in White Noise. Although, I must say, my version is way more believable. In the actual movie, it turns out that some arbitrary character who has only one line before the end is a serial torturer who is imprisoning women, torturing them and sending the images to Keaton through his own set of Sony televisions and computers in one of the many derelict warehouses that pop up in bad horror movies and still have working electricity. I think we're supposed to be shocked not by how lame a device this is, but because we didn't immediately suspect the elevator repairman who had one line an hour earlier. What a twist! Man, that must have nearly broken the screenwriter's brain to think up.

Adding bizarre idiocy to the crap already served up, the repairman is being forced to do the dirtywork of three ghostly specters. Don't ask why because I have no fucking clue and don't really care. Clearly, neither do the film's makers. It's not revenge or punishment as far as I can tell. What's even more mystifying is why these specters would have this man do their work since it's quite clear they can and do inflict physical harm of their own. Or why specters would be so keen on torture.

During White Noise, Keaton's wife dies. Then, he's the first on the scene when the nutjob psychic is killed. Based on a tip from the static channel, he wanders to the middle of nowhere and comes upon a car crash and rescues a baby while the mother dies. Then, the platonic hottie leaps off her balcony right in front of him. Yet the cops never think to suspect him of anything? What the fuck? Is it because of his great alibi: "The TV told me?"

The movie not only asks us to believe that the dead communicate through TVs, but also through ladies who do seances. And they give damn accurate information. What a sloppy hose job. Lazy, convenient writing by Niall Johnson, and stunningly unimaginative direction by Limey Geoffrey Sax. First it's a yuppie's wet dream of fancy houses, high-paying glamorous jobs and nice furniture. Then, it devolves into a dreadful cliche of horror movie settings: lots of gray skies, rain and water; dim, abandoned warehouses, glowering priests thrown in for the hell of it, a serial torturer with access to tools and exquisite knowledge of human anatomy; and characters like a blank-faced policeman who wander in and out of the script solely at the plot's convenience. The only scares in this floater come from sudden loud noises and things jumping out of the dark. Otherwise, this is the ass-numbing story of a man watching TV, and there ain't even anything on.

Fuck it. One Finger. I hope that lady found Calgon. She's the only one I worried about.

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Chuck Thomas of Movie Reviews and Previews

In Coach Carter "Samuel L. Jackson gives the performance of his career!"

A Series of Unfortunate Events is "Family fun for everyone!"

Racing Stripes is "A fantastically funny family film! I don't know who will love it more, adults or kids!"

See, that's the difference between Chuck and me. I would have phrased it, "I don't know who will love it less..."

Filthy's Reading
Don Delillo - Cosmopolis

Listening to
Duke Ellington - Masterpieces 1926-1949


Strangers with Candy - Season One