Friday, November 30, 2007

I beg to differ.

(Do note that this post, as per the movie, contains a bit of graphic content, such as stabbings, flesh being ripped from the body and Lindsay Lohan. I know I was too late to save you from the above, but you've seen worse.)

Meet Aubrey Fleming. She is one half of the brassy, orange-colored harlot protagonist in the best movie of 2007, I Know Who Killed Me. And as we can see, she is a confused lass. But wouldn't you be too? I know I was as I crawled through this movie, not once, but twice. The first viewing was online because I was intent on not spending any money; the second, a rental party with two good friends on the day it came out.

Since I doubt anyone else has watched this movie, this post will be a brief summary of the movie, in both pictures and text. What better way is there to expose the incredulity of this movie but to use...well, the movie itself?

Point proven.

Anyway, the story begins with some incredibly inane stripping sequences. I didn't bother to cap them because believe it or not, LiLo does the least erotic striptease to ever be committed to celluloid. She doesn't even get naked. No weather-beaten orange tatas for you!

Of course, this is Evil Twin LiLo, who we don't see for about another half hour. In the meantime, we get to hang out with Aubrey. She's a sweet girl who likes blue roses, playing the piano, and getting fingered in Biology class.

This is her boyfriend. Conveniently, he found a blue rose. If you aren't familiar with this movie's incredibly subtle and expressive color symbolism, prepare to become so. Uh...that's a classy way of saying that you'll be seeing either blue or red in every single shot of the movie. Immediately after the shot above, for instance...

That idiot pricks herself on a thorn. Blue to red! You could interpret this as beautiful things having deadly secrets, or violence leading to pain, or a talentless film director shoehorning metaphors into his script to make his movie seem deep. I think you know where my dollar's placed.

Anyway, despite warnings of a serial killer prowling the neighborhood, Aubrey wanders off by herself after a football game and manages to get kidnapped. Cue ominous blue fade from this shot:

to this one:

Yep, ol' LiLo's stumbled into some torture porn! I actually kind of feel bad for her; she must have legitimately thought this would have been her big jump into a more mature film career. "Mature film" meaning something different than what it sounds like, of course, though porn only seems like the next logical step after this and her rehab stints.

So obviously, one person is having fun in this scene. It's not Aubrey, and it's definitely not the viewer, because we get treated to images like this.

Classy, right? This is the stuff adult dramas are made of. I, for one, loved the fingernail torture sequence in Remains of the Day, but that's just me.

Aubrey wakes up in the hospital and treats us to what must be the single most hilarious shot of the movie. I don't know what that says about me as a human being, but I laughed for about five minutes the first time I watched this.

We soon discover, however, that she is not only missing limbs but also her identity! Aubrey now calls herself "Dakota Moss," a hardened stripper/crack fiend, completely removed of the virginal if not still slutty-looking Aubrey. What's really great about her sudden transformation is that Lindsay Lohan plays both characters EXACTLY the same, right down to the mannerism. Her voice is a little harsher and that's it. The only difference between these two is Dakota says "fuck" a lot, which is clearly the key to being taken seriously as an actress.

This has little plot relevance, but I like that the police show a horrified amputation victim pictures of the last girl her assailant murdered.

See that look of anguish? That's Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. FBI, FTW!

Once Aubrey Dakota is well enough to leave her bed, the police interrogate her about her whereabouts and identity. I don't know where she lives - Callous Law Enforcement Town? It's almost as if the screenwriter was trying really hard to advance the plot forward...and sacrificed all credibility in the process. Nah, couldn't be! It was also during this scene that I noticed that LiLo's severed limb looks like either a hot dog or a penis.

Basically, Dakota regales the police with her hidden past. Her mother kept her a secret from the world, so she doesn't have any birth records, but that didn't stop her from becoming a stripper at the age of 4 or however old she is.

Hey, does she remind you at all of another recently melted-down celebrity? This shot is an eerie portent of the future Miss Spears, which is perhaps its only cultural worth. Hairless Testicle Cat notwithstanding.

Basically, Dakota's mom died and she has nowhere else to go, so "Aubrey's" mom benevolently decides to "adopt" her. But not before she gets fitted with some sweet cyborg limbs!

That is some straight-up Star Wars shit right there. I waited very expectantly for the scene where Aubrey's father goes "Dakota, I am your father" and Dakota says "No you're not! You stole me from the dead crackwhore down the hall and sent my sister off to New Zealand where you're paying her with monthly child support. I KNOW WHO KILLED ME!" Oh wait, that ACTUALLY FUCKING HAPPENED. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Dakota Aubrey Dakota comes back home to find her boyfriend expectantly waiting for his chaste Aubrey. What he finds is something completely different, though no less hot.

You know what it's time for? Cripple sex!

I kind of wish I had screencapped this more. It's really great because the sex scene is intercut with shots of Aubrey's mom scrubbing things with immense frustration, trying to drown out the sounds of her daughter's gimpy orgasming. The sex itself is incredibly boring and poorly-filmed, but that hardly seems to matter.

Now the movie cuts to a flashback. Confused yet? Hang on! Dakota's finger falls off in the shower, and she is immediately reminded of a similar experience she had at the strip club, where - I kid you not - her finger falls off during her routine. Most fucked-up strip club everrrr. Anyway, Dakota manages to avoid suspicion by telling her boss that she "cut herself with a beer bottle" and didn't need to go to the hospital because "they're for rich people." Yeah.

On the bus back to...wherever she's going, she encounters this ridiculously irrelevant Jesus figure.

And no, that second picture isn't pre-coitus - it's part of a twisted dream sequence that involves tattoos coming to life - but it wouldn't have surprised me because Dakota's a whore. This enigmatic Asian tells her "people get cut. That's life" and never appears again.

Back to the present. It is at this point that Dakota Aubrey Dakota becomes convinced somehow that her sudden injuries are of some importance (OMG REALLY???) Tapping into the unlimited power of the internets, she makes this excellent search:

They're not just bleeding, but they're UNEXPLAINED too. Just like this movie. This incredibly useful search actually manages to take her to exactly the page she needs, an informative video about the stigmata. Look at this picture and try to tell me that this movie is taking itself seriously. I dare you.

He informs her that bleeding wounds unexplained can occur in identical twins, which automatically leads her to conjecture that she is a twin and her father sent her sister to New Zealand where he is paying her monthly child support. Now we knew that Dakota wasn't exactly a deductive mind to rival Holmes, but seriously, this is just ridiculous. Her mom whips out the sonogram of her pregnancy that she conveniently kept but NO science deters Dakota Moss!

At this point a lot of boring shit that I didn't feel like capping happens. What it leads up to is that Dakota wanders to the grave of the first girl that the serial killer murdered. There, she discovers this illegible ribbon.

This incredibly important discovery leads her to believe that it was the piano teacher who was behind it all along! SHE KNOWS WHO KILLED HER! But God knows how. Dakota/Audrey's brain kind of works in its own bizarre little world, where logical gaps make perfect sense.

Also, a dual-color split screen with your Saran-wrapped and buried twin-not-twin is something that every movie should have.

Aubrey, determined to stop her assailant at all costs, goes to the piano teacher's house armed with absolutely nothing but her battery-powered leg. I guess you can't really be "armed" with a leg, though. Fuck you I thought it was funny.

Also, her dad died.

But there's no time for grief! (as if we gave a fuuuuuck) The piano teacher finds her prowling around in his basement garden of body parts, and after a brief struggle, he - I kid you not - beats her unconscious with her own cyborg arm. If I could make GIFs, I would, and you would see it everywhere, because this scene is just too perfect. I think it's an accurate representation of Aubrey's struggles thus far; no matter what she tries to do, something incredibly stupid just beats the shit out of her. I KNOW WHO KILLED ME AND IT'S MYSELF!

Dakota or Aubrey or who-the-fuck-ever wakes to find herself tied to something. It takes her about six seconds to break free, however, and with the aid of a conveniently-placed sharp object she stabs her assailant in the neck.

You know, if I were making my on-screen debut as a twisted, limb-chopping psychopath, I would not want my final image to look like this.

He knows who killed him and it's really surprising!

Dramatic obstacle resolved, Dakota Aubrey Dakota Lindsay Lohan stumbles back to the graveyard and digs up a random grave, where she finds...herself, looking like a fucked-up 1800s schoolteacher. She curls up next to this matronly version of herself and falls asleep as the moon shines silently upon these inexplicable proceedings.

End movie.

If you haven't been able to discern it by now, I Know Who Killed Me is an immeasurable disaster. Though it is too obscure to slay the careers of those involved, I can name at least one director and two screenwriters who will never be working in Hollywood again. And this certainly isn't an auspicious omen for several of the actors involved, not the least of which is poor Lindsay Lohan. It really is sad that this is what her star-studded cinematic path has led to; it will take boatloads of good will to get herself in a project half as good as this in the future.

People who do not make it out of this movie with their dignity intact:

Julia Ormond

Neal McDonough

Crab Man

I would have said LiLo herself, but really...did she have any dignity left when she signed on to this?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy (three hour late) Thanksgiving!

Wanna know what I'm thankful for this year?

No Country for Old Men, for easily being the best movie of 2007 so far (and probably for the rest of the year)

Amy Winehouse, for making fantastic music AND supplying the world with plenty of crazy tabloid fodder

and SaGa Frontier, a 10-year-old Playstation game that just bewitches me for absolutely no reason at all.

I could have said friends and family and health and all that but fuuuuck it. This is how I roll.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I need a Cute Immunization

Goddamn it. I know I bitched about Enchanted earlier, but this just looks too fucking adorable to pass up.

I suppose Disney isn't totally dead. To. Me. Just yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You're Breaking My Heart!!!

Every musician or band releases a disappointing album at one point in their career; if not disappointing, then something that doesn't hold up quite to the gold standard that they established for themselves. Usually these complaints are weathered, by dint of the album growing on you or the people in question moving on to better things. But when three of my most well-loved artists released three disappointing albums within a few months of each other, and I listened to them all at nearly the same time, it was a crushing blow. This is the part where I try to reconcile with myself.

3. m-flo - Cosmicolor

Though I touched upon this one briefly in my previous music post, Cosmicolor is an album of many peaks and valleys...mostly valleys. After band member Lisa left them in 2002, their albums revolved entirely around guest singers on the tracks, generally one song per guest singer. These were called the "love" albums; "m-flo loves melody", "m-flo loves Crystal Kay" and the like. Of the three "love albums", Cosmicolor is the longest at a bloated 13 tracks (17 if you count the cheesy skits). It is also the least engaging.

Though the highlights are really great, like the trim and effective Stuck in Your Love and the bangin' Love Long and Prosper, everything on the album is just dragged out to near-anemia. Few songs on Cosmicolor clock in at under 5 minutes. Lotta Love, a fun but uneven Euro track, is nearly 7 minutes long, with little to show for it but unapologetic repetition. Love Song is a Bonnie Pink collaboration that just goes on way too long; Luvotomy doesn't have anything to do but repeat itself after the 2 minute mark. She Loves the CREAM almost gets away with it, but there's a dull-as-hell jazz interlude halfway through that totally kills the momentum of the song. Though it would be tempting to reward the shorter songs on the album for understanding brevity, Love Don't Cry and Simple and Lovely are completely forgettable.

I could see this making a serviceable dance-floor record, but on standalone listens, Cosmicolor just totally falls apart. After the outstanding Beat Space Nine, this is a disappointing, mincing follow-up. m-flo has announced that the "loves" series is dead, and I can't help but feel a little relieved.

Check Out: Stuck in Your Love, Love Long and Prosper, Love Me After 12 AM, Picture Perfect Love

2. KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic

Of the three artists profiled in this list, KT Tunstall was the one I was expecting the least from; concurrently, it's the worst of these three albums. Where her debut, Eye to the Telescope, featured grit beautifully waxing to vulnerability and an almost cheeky empowerment, Drastic Fantastic just feels like a melange of underdeveloped emotional hosannas. Half of the songs sound like they should be played behind a medical insurance commercial, and the other half could serve very well in a commercial for a wacky teen drama.

Tunstall herself is not the least bit preoccupied with appeasing her audience. But since it's hardly an artistic triumph at all, I can only wonder what the goal of the album was. Nearly every song is cut from the same mold; play Beauty of Uncertainty and Someday Soon back-to-back and you won't even remember which is which. Hopeless epitomizes the album by sounding agreeable at first and then totally vanishing into the void right after listening to it. Not every song on the album is as elevator-music, though. Paper Aeroplane is as drifty and wistful as the title entails, and I Don't Want You Now embraces Tunstall's more effective upbeat side. Hold On does a great job at actually engaging a listener, the album's main fault...It's no wonder that it's Drastic Fantastic's first single, but expecting much more of its kind from the album would seriously betray a potential buyer. I mean, look at the cover. It looks like something challenging, exciting, epic. Drastic Fantastic is anything but.

Cosmicolor may have been a massively overlong album, but at 39 minutes, Drastic Fantastic is just not enough to satisfy. It's a jangly, cheap little bauble of an alt-pop album with nary a hook in sight. I can only hope that KT Tunstall hasn't landed herself in one-hit-wonder land with ol' Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, but I think she's got enough talent in her to produce something worth listening to again.

Check Out: Hold On, Paper Aeroplane, I Don't Want You Now

1. Bonnie Pink - Thinking Out Loud

This is the true heartbreaker of the list to me. Thinking Out Loud is Bonnie Pink's 10th studio album, and it is the one that cries "Stop this madness!" to me. Her 9th, the divisive Golden Tears, was her most dangerous flirtation with pop. It put a lot of previously unheard elements in Pink's music to the forefront, like synthesizers and really thick production, and though there were a few great songs some people thought it was a change for the worse.

But at least it was a change. Thinking Out Loud is an attempt to combine her previous style with her new artistic direction and the results are absolutely monstrous. The recurring problem on the album is that the melodies are too simple and the production is too overdone, which leaves poor Bonnie in between a rock and a hard place. To no fault of her own, nearly every song on the album is completely uninteresting. Commercializing her intimate, soulful voice has done her very little good.

As far as standouts on Thinking Out Loud, Anything For You is undeniably the strongest song on there. It is a ball of energy and melodic fun, overpowering the tedium by sheer bulldozer force. It's a shame that this song was shoehorned onto the album as its last track; it would have made a much better lead-in than the pointless Gimme a Beat. Sakamichi is like a grungy, sexy younger sister to her seminal groover Senaka. Catch the Sun is listenable, if not cheesy and unaccomplished.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album does little but make itself seem like a waste of time. The most flagrant offender is the Philharmonic Flava rearrangement of her smash single A Perfect Sky, which is...inexplicable. Totally self-indulgent and pointless. A Perfect Sky was one of Bonnie Pink's biggest chart hits, but cramming this bland old dinosaur on the album seems to have been done solely in commercial interest. You probably won't even make it to the chorus on Burning Inside, Nagusami Blue and - wait for this one - "Broken hearts, citylights and just me thinking out loud." She sounds too sharp on the melodramatic Water Me, sleepwalks through Lullaby, and has nothing to do on the horrible Imagination, which sounds like the retarded bastard child of Communication and The Answer.

What I guess comforts me is that Bonnie Pink has plenty of places to run after this debacle. She can return to her pared-down, beautiful melodies, the gems of the past from albums like Even So or Just a Girl, or continue to change herself as an artist and see if she can find a better niche. But she cannot do both, as Thinking Out Loud proves. Right now, what she needs to do is divorce herself from Burning Chicken's overwhelming production and take a little time to sharpen her melodies. Work like this is just upsetting for big fans like me, just because I know she is capable of far better.

Check Out: Anything For You, Catch The Sun, Sakamichi

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fierceness at the Workplace: Special Education Edition

I'm finishing out a week at an elementary school, and the work is pretty easy (if not unremarkable). I kind of mill around the school and assist various classrooms; nothing awfully challenging, except the rough half hour in the SDC room trying to teach six learning-disabled 5th grade boys how to do massive multiplication by rounding.

My favorite part of the day has to be working with Austin. He's a bizarre little second-grader with - get this! - not only a mohawk, but also a rat tail. Not even the bravest (or trashiest) of men would dare attempt a coiffure like this, but Austin is no man. He is a god. Today when I came in to pick him up and take him to the counseling room, where I do random subtraction with him, he reached up and touched my head and said "I like your hair!" Oh, Austin. I'm sure I like yours far more.

The school I'm working at is kind of bizarre. It's in a low income area, and a lot of the teachers are the type who are knowledgeable in those different walks of life, so they're usually pretty cool. Teaching can be a really conservative, ivory-tower profession, which is an approach that I don't think works that well anymore. But I digress. The one exception to the generally tolerable staff is a woman named Tina. She is cheery and agreeable, but has absolutely no understanding of how her habits bear down on other people.

Example: I first met Tina in the copying room. As we went about our respective clerical tasks, she sang a song to the tune of "Clementine" about possessives. Made-up educational singalong songs are an excruciating necessity, but MOST people have the common sense to keep them outside the classroom. Not Tina. She sat there and sang "use possessives, use possessives, use poSSESSive apostrophes" over and over and over again, each time with a different grammatical rule tacked on the end. She must have sang this song nine times before I finished my copying job and ran out of the room as fast as I could, bleeding from the ears.

Today Tina told me a two-minute story about her personalized pencil. Telling people "I don't care" is in my opinion one of the rudest things ever, but women like her make it so, so tempting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Know what's awesome? Zombies.

Not Rob Zombie, though. Go make another white-trash horror opera!

I don't care how nouveau-hipster that makes me sound, but I've liked them well before The Zombie Survival Guide (as good a read as it is) suddenly made them acceptable for the indie kids to have interest in. My mom showed me Night of the Living Dead on VHS when I was I think 13 years old, and I think that fostered the beginning of a deep appreciation in me.

I mention this because I watched Day of the Dead today, rounding out Romero's original zombie trilogy. Of the three, Dawn of the Dead is probably my favorite, as it is many others', but Day of the Dead is really underrated. It catches a lot of shit because there's very little zombie action in the first half an hour of a movie, to which I say - so what? Yeah, George Romero doesn't write particularly well; he knows where to put hot zombie action, and he knows how to disembowel a hapless human, but dialogue and coherence dance around him a little bit.

The basic premise of the movie is that there's a small military faction holed up in a bunker with some civilian scientists while zombies are apparently overrunning the earth. Romero's sociological allegory is obvious right off the bat: all of the soldiers are douches, especially their insane captain. The military/government is bad? Seriously?! It's cool to have a message in your movie and all, but I can understand why it frustrated people that it supersedes the zombies.

Obviously, the movie really hits its stride once he gets to the actual meat (no pun intended) of it all. It's the most gruesome of the trilogy, no questions asked, especially the final death scene. It's absolutely great in that repulsive sort of way. I think it's especially funny because all that moralizing that Romero did in the first act and a half of the movie just totally gets chewed through by ridiculous undead violence. It's as if he decided to say "you can have your politics if you like, but when the apocalypse comes, they're not gonna fucking matter."

Anyway, I decided to write about this partly because the movie is being remade. It has Nick Cannon in it. I assume he will be taking the place of the Jamaican helicopter pilot, simply because Hollywood thinks all black people are exactly the same so it's okay to have them talk like that. I hate Nick Cannon, but spare the man a little dignity! Anyway, the remake is going to suck. I can tell right off the bat because with the current political climate, the director's going to go really fucking overboard with the social messages, diluting the actual zombie part of the film in one way or another. What do you wanna bet they'll all link hands and sing "Imagine" while the legions of the undead bear down on them with tooth and nail? God save us all.

But yeah, zombies are great. I've been thinking about writing a zombie film of my own, and Day of the Dead has pretty much solidified the deal. Have any ideas? Post them here! I probably won't use them, because that's plagiarism and it is bad, but I know that I have some creative friends out there. Show me what you got!

(Image from Pangeacorp.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The soul-crushing state of America, reflected through a cultural prism - a.k.a. LOL DUMB

Yeah, I have an internal comedy bias - it's my least favorite of the genres simply because it's the one most easily duplicated in real life - but seriously, Will Ferrell in another sports movie? Kicking and Screaming, The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, and now this. Four sports movies, practically in a row. Talk about range! And that's the least of our worries, what with a premature Vince Vaughn holiday nightmare, the impending Alvin and the Chipmunks remake which looks terrrrrrible, some shitty fake biopic (paging Christopher Guest...), and something with Amy Adams pretending to be a princess in a lame Disney abortion.

(Be Kind Rewind might be okay, but I would have to get over my fear of Jack Black first.)

Did I mention I found this on my way to the Day of the Dead remake's page? I heard that Nick Cannon would be in it and, in a whirl of utter disbelief, found it to be true. This is the most disheartening evening I've experienced since I watched I Know Who Killed Me.

Also I think this is probably my favorite music video ever.

My love for it is deepened because of how much it upsets idiots. Apparently, watching a bunch of stop-motion paper children bleed a little bit is profoundly disturbing to them. Perhaps the part where the cat gets its head torn off is what gets them, but they sew it back on! And seriously, how is any of this worse than that God-awful Saw shit Americans continue to watch?

Stay in Iceland where you belong, little Múm. The people here are out to get you with entirely non-violent pitchforks.