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This week:
Wicker Park

Filthy says:
"I'd rather have been fucked by apes.

What a fucking turd. Someone walked into the Arvada Olde Town cinemas and hucked this big shit called Wicker Park on the screen and then left us to watch. You know, there are many reasons a movie can suck: bad story, bad acting, incompetent production or direction. But it takes the convergence of many to make a truly shitty movie. And it takes even more to make a movie as monumentally crappy as Wicker Park. This movie is the only place besides my family reunions where so much boringness, stupidity and unbelievable horseshit collide. It's as bad as donkey porn, only way more pretentious and way less interesting.

Wicker Park is an "erotic thriller" written by that fat girl in your high school class who ate lunch by herself and was believed to have masturbated with her piccolo in French class. To swallow it you have to believe that there only five people living in Chicago. How else can you explain the incredible coincidences? You also have to believe there is pure, true love in the world. That is, love so powerful that it gives you the right to fuck over everyone in your path and hurt as many feelings as you like because, God dammit!, you have true love. In real life, you don't get a do-over because you found "true love." True, pure love is the kind of fairytale crap spoonfed to fat women who watch the Lifetime channel all day in their pajamas and live with 16 cats so they won't kill themselves in despair before the ads for Folgers coffee.

Wicker Park has no anchor in reality; it's just the free-floating fantasy of how people behave as imagined by someone with no friends. It's stuffed with the fashions and furniture who draw their imaginations from Pier One catalogs. And just so you know, there is no thriller part. None. It boils down to tedious dolts whining, but nothing more.

Josh Hartnett, the human nap, is a Chicago advertising executive--a job held by the heartthrob in every hack romance ever concocted by a writer with "Rex Morgan" comics hung in his cubicle--who pines for an ex-lover (Rose Byrne) that he lost touch with two years before. This is his one true love, so much so, I guess, that he's already nearly engaged to someone else. He can't stop thinking about his ex, and since it's "true love" the movie asks us to accept his obsession and the way he fucks over his current girlfriend as just fine. As he is about to leave his current, horsefaced betrothed for a business trip to China, he thinks he spies the ex out of the corner of his eye in a restaurant.

Without telling horsey, he postpones the trip and spends the time stalking his ex. And I mean stalking. It's not the innocent stuff like me digging through an old girlfriend's trash to inhale the musky odor of her half-eaten taquitos, or to see if she's thrown out any of her bones that I can take home to reconstruct her from.

No, this is creepy stalking. He breaks into her hotel room and steals her property, takes her personal letters and replaces them with his own, and breaks into her apartment and hides out.

When the girl returns to the apartment, it's not his ex but a stranger (Diane Kruger) with the same name and taste, and who creeps him out before fucking him. We know there must be something wrong with her because she looks like she always has a runny nose. Hartnett lets Kruger bone him, not because he's attracted to her but because the script requires it. In fact, all of Wicker Park's action is predicated not by logic or moral, but by some fucking asshole screenwriter's idiotic belief that we won't notice that none of it makes sense if the characters pout and mope a lot. Hey, asshole: characters only matter when they're developed enough to justify their actions.

Soon enough, Hartnett figures out that the girl he screwed is somehow entangled with his true love. In fact, she's the ex's friend who's been in love with Hartnett from afar forever, and has assumed his ex's identity in order to get to him. She is also dating his best friend (Matthew Lillard). Like I said, there are only five people in Chicago; that's the only way to plausibly explain the coincidences and entanglements.

Along Wicker Park's path, it gives Lillard a chance to show America that he's more than the obnoxious, braying asshole he plays in comedies. He can be just as braying and obnoxious in dramas. Is there anyone who sees Lillard's name in the newspaper and doesn't think "That's gotta be awful." Do studios hire him to secretly tip us off not to see their movies?

The climax of Wicker Park, a showdown in a restaurant where Hartnett confronts Kruger is about as dull and stale as the dessert menu at Denny's. There are no fireworks, no excitement and no tension. There's definitely the sense that the director thinks he's weaved such a brilliant story that we give a gorilla's tit, but I didn't. Smart movies can get away with mental showdowns for their climaxes. Terrible movies like this one need to blow something up. The girl should go nuts. Yeah, that's predictable, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing.

Director Paul McGuigan makes this the most pretentious pile of shit since Kenneth Branagh took a dump at Buckingham Palace. The movie doesn't suffer from an unsure hand. McGuigan is plenty self-assured. So much so that it seems to have never occurred to him how fucking trite, unconvincing and awful his story is. He fetishizes locations, shoes and other images as though he's convinced he's making art. You can tell a shitload of time was spent on the details, and none on the important parts. Like McGuigan decided to use pretzel-like timing before he decided to make sense. So, he keeps piling on the atmosphere and fancy camera work, without having anything to say. I think he wants to say something about obsession because this girl is obsessed with him the same way he is with his ex. Yeah? And so fucking what? That doesn't make her likable, it only makes both her and Hartnett pathetic and whiny.

Josh Hartnett is so fucking bad. He's probably good-looking enough to model underwear in the K-Mart circular, although I'm not sure he has the range for it. His face shows no emotion and that stupid haircut makes him look like he should be wearing Toughskins. He mopes through this movie, never convincing us he gives a fuck about the women he's supposedly obsessed with. I don't think he knows how. The actresses are as crappy, maybe worse. Kruger thinks a runny nose constitutes sadness. Byrne is stiffer than the dicks of shore-leave sailors.

Wicker Park is advertised as creepy and it is, but not for any of the reasons it thinks. It wants the stranger to be creepy, but she's drippy. It wants Hartnett to be sexy, but only woodpeckers will be turned on by his acting. What's creepy is amorality of the script, and the way the movie plays out as though we're rooting for these vapid, icky people to find love. Fuck 'em all. Hartnett's character should say, "You know what? I'm dating someone else now and I owe her the decency of staying faithful, and not fucking her over. I should stay miserable and attached rather than follow my heart." Because that's how we do it in Arvada.

One stinky finger right out of my ass for Wicker Park.

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Jeffrey Lyons of NBC

Without a Paddle is "The funniest film of the summer! Outrageous and zany!"

When Will I Be Loved is "Edgy and provocative!"

Filthy's Reading
Graham Greene - The Third Man

Listening to
Modest Mouse - Good News for People who Love Bad News


The Third Man