Thursday, August 30, 2007

Deadwood: Season 1, Disc 2

I still love Deadwood. Even though I giggle every time they say cocksucker because now it feels personal, like they’re doing it just to give me something to write about. Thank you, Wild Bill Hickok. I appreciate the potty-mouth shout-out.

I was, however, really bummed to receive this disc and find out that they are going to torture us by putting only two episodes on every disc. Cocksuckers. The Sopranos used to pull this nonsense from time to time and I haven’t forgotten about it.

I know, I know. We should just pony up the extra cash and get HBO. But we’re at war with our cable company as it is and I just can’t give them the satisfaction.

My only hope is that someone at HBO will realize that many of its most passionate advocates don’t even subscribe to the service. And so torturing us with two-episode discs is really just poisoning your own well.

Don’t make me go to the dark side, HBO, because I am not above watching Cinemax. I just checked their schedule and they’re airing “Garfield, a Tale of Two Kitties” right next to “The Erotic Traveler”. Which I presume to be a tale of two titties.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 13: Deadwood, Season 1, Disc 1

Damn, this is a good show. Shit yeah! Cocksucker!

Sorry, I got a little carried away with Deadwood-speak. I remember when this show came out a few years ago, all anyone could talk about was how much the characters swore. We, being HBO-free, never understood what the fuss was all about.

Now I fucking get it.

They swear a lot. A ridiculous amount. So much that it is totally distracting. And it almost ruins the show a bit. Which is a shame because Deadwood is so good, it doesn’t really need the shock-value of an ill-advised “cocksucker” every two minutes.

That being said, I’m in love with Deadwood. I can’t believe we waited this long to watch it. I’ve always had a thing for westerns, but what’s great about Deadwood is that it’s so dirty and gritty and wild. It makes you a little grateful to have concrete sidewalks and sanitation systems.

Deadwood is a wild west prospecting camp where outlaws come to strike it rich. Seth Bullock (played by Timothy Olyphant, whose voice is weirdly identical to Bill Paxton’s) arrives in Deadwood and immediately strikes up a rivalry with the corrupt owner of the local brothel/saloon, Al Swearengen (Ian McShane). The cast is colorful, corrupt and dirty. Seth’s partner is Sol “the Jew”. Well, I’m sure all the outlaws in town will just open their arms to welcome a Jew. I can’t imagine there will be any trouble for him at all. Nope. I’m sure he'll just slip under the radar.

The first disc contained just two episodes and already there have been a half-dozen murders, beatings and even a few gunfights. It’s a pure, guilty pleasure. Oh, and Wild Bill Hickok is also in town and is so cool and smooth he could best any modern-day superhero.

I can’t wait for the next disc. Oh, sorry. I meant to say: I can’t fucking wait for the next cocksucking disc. Cocksucker.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Week 13: The Dinner Game

Here’s how Netflix described The Dinner Game:

A group of French intellectuals gather each Wednesday for the dinner game, where the challenge is to bring along the most idiotic guest each can find.

Oh, I’ll be honest, Netflix. You had me at “a group of French intellectuals.” I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. Probably because it is my secret desire to be described in casual conversation as a French intellectual. Forgetting the fact that I am neither French nor intellectual. TouchĂ©.

Grant busied himself with falling asleep approximately ten minutes into this movie. His eyes started to flutter the minute he saw me select the option for “English subtitles.” That’s pretty much his cue to put on his PJs and sink way back against the sofa cushions for a nice snooze.

So, while Grant snored I did my best to dredge up my remedial knowledge of college French. Just as I feared, I could only make out the curse words.

Anyway, I’m mixed on this movie. It was enjoyable and even charming in parts, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching an old episode of “I Love Lucy.” It has that saccharine quality about it that isn’t unpleasant, but is so campy and pratfall-ridden that you never really buy into the whole premise. Still, it was fun to watch the mess unfold when Pierre is stuck with his “idiot” after injuring his back, preventing them from making it to the dinner party.

I found it amusing that Pierre seemed to forget about his horrible back injury as the night wore on. What started as paralyzing pain morphed into him absently clutching his side from time to time as he raced around his apartment. That’s exactly the way I behave when I’m sick. I forget the pain after a while but bring it back from time to time to garner sympathy. It doesn’t work for me either.

I say go ahead and rent this one. Grant says “Zzzzzz….”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Queue Quiz: Reader Poll

The Motley Queue asks:
Our Netflix queue runneth somewhat low, and we're interested to know which movies you think we at the Motley Queue should add to our queue. My, that is a lot of usage of the word 'queue' in one sentence. Anyway, I'm interested to hear what you think we should watch.

Some recent suggestions I've received include:
Night Shift (submitted by Joyce): classic 1980's kitsch starring Michael Keaton, whom I will always love. Even though nobody ever casts him in anything anymore, which is a shame.

Class of 1984 (submitted by Doug): I'm a little scared of this one because Doug has weird tastes but I'm willing to chance it. Although when I looked it up on IMDB, it has a definite "Toxic Avenger" stench about it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Week 12: Extras, Season 2, Disc 2

Okay, I won't bore you again with my endless babbling about how funny this show is. Instead, I though I'd make a clumsy segue from the fact that Chris Martin was the guest star on one episode on this disc to the fact that I CANNOT STAND his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Is it because I am secretly jealous of how fabulous her life is? Possibly.

Is it because even though I think she's a self-obsessed bore, given the chance, I would try to become her friend? Most certainly.

Is it because I want the ability to casually toss into conversation the fact that Steven Spielberg is my godfather? Yes. I am a shallow hal.

I think Gwynnie is a fine actress. I don't think she's as great as everyone pretends she is (conveniently forgetting that atrocious cow patty she was in with Huey Lewis, Duets). I can even put up with her yapping about macrobiotic diets and how she NEEDED to take a year off from work because pretending to be other people for a living is really hell on her yoga practice. Testify.

I think what did me in with Paltrow was the the clip I saw of her on the Oprah show in which she lamented her father's death by recounting the story of the time he took her to the Ritz Carlton in Paris so she could, "see Paris for the first time with a man who would always love her."

The audience swooned. Oprah made one of those sounds she makes when she forgets that she's supposed to be pretending to be a folksy black woman. The whole room felt sorry for Gwyneth. Because her father would never again take her to the Ritz Carlton. In Paris. France. Where she probably stays every other week. And never has to worry that the bottle of Fiji she just took from the minibar cost 35 euros. But remember folks, she is lounging in that giant featherbed in the presidential suite of a five-star hotel without her father. She only has her maid, her butler, rockstar husband and healthy children to keep her company. Sigh.

I feel for you, Gwynnie. I really do. Because my father will probably never again take me to the Knight's Inn off the highway in Bexley, West Virginia. The one with indoor plumbing and only a modest amount of stains on unwashed sheets. Nope, I may never get to see that icon of luxury again with the one man who would always tolerate me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Week 11: Grey Gardens

Pop Quiz! Sanity Edition

Wondering if you're crazy? Take the Grey Gardens sanity quiz!

A) Have you ever cooked corn in a pot of boiling water next to your bed, then buttered it and ate it in bed?

B) Upon seeing one of your 20 cats pee in your bed next to you, have you ever declared, "I thrive on the smell of cat urine!"?

C) Have you ever been forced to cart 1,000 bags of trash from inside your house?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions, welcome to crazy town!

I'm not one of those people obsessed with Jackie Kennedy, but still, I can't help but rubberneck when I hear that some incredibly rich, privileged family has a big old pot of crazy in it. In the case of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, her pot o' crazy came in the form of her aunt and cousin and their dilapidated mansion, Grey Gardens.

Grey Gardens is a documentary from 1975 on Big Edie (Edith Bouvier Beale) and Little Edie Beale, aunt and cousin of Jackie O. These ladies grew up in the roaring aristocracy of New York City and by all accounts lived a lush and privileged life. They summered in the family's Hampton's manse, Grey Gardens. But somewhere along the way, Big Edie's husband left her and she called for her lovely and popular daughter, Little Edie, to come back and live with her in Grey Gardens.

Twenty or so cats and one thousand bags of trash later (no exaggeration, according to one newspaper report), Grey Gardens became a rodent-infested, trash-strewn skeleton of aristocracy and the two Edies had gone plumb crazy inside it.

The documentary, although I've only recently heard of it, is apparently legendary and a cult favorite on the gay scene (I confirmed this through a few Google searches by using keywords such as "homo gardens" and "queens love Edie").

The audio quality is rough and it lingers a bit, but still, it's compelling. Especially when you see glimpses into their pasts in which they were young and beautiful and so strikingly normal. But in the film, normal is long gone. They are eccentric to the point of insanity. Like in the scene where Big Edie, lying on her filthy mattress, BOILS A POT OF CORN next to her bed. I still can't get over it.

Watching the scenes of Little Edie (who at 56, is no longer little) are particularly heartbreaking because as she recounts her years at Spence and her debutante balls and society parties, you're struck by what terrible turns her life took and how much she lost. She had every bit as much opportunity as her cousin Jackie did, but her life went tragically astray.

And somehow she lost all her hair. That was never explained, and frankly, I'd like an answer. Maybe the cats ate it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Week 11: Extras, Season 2, Disc 1

I've got to rent something crappy soon because it's getting increasingly harder to think of anything sarcastic to say when the rental is so good. So I won't even try with Extras, Season 2. It's just plain hilarious. The second season is even funnier than the first, with the three episodes on this disc starring Orlando Bloom, David Bowie and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter for the three of you muggles who don't know). I'd heard that the David Bowie episode was a killer and it didn't dissapoint. Bowie bursting into spontaneous song about what a fat loser Andy Millman is(Ricky Gervais)...well, it's priceless.

And nothing could have prepared us for seeing little Harry Potter hitting on anything with boobs and carrying around an unrolled condom as proof that he's ready to "have the sexual intercourse" as he calls it. Brilliant.

I swear this show would never work in an Americanized version because no American actors would allow themselves to be portrayed in such embarrassing ways. I think the act of hiring your own publicist automatically removes the sense-of-humor-chip from your brain.

If you have HBO (which we don't) and a DVR (which we also don't), you're committing a crime if you're not watching this show. Jesus. I just re-read that sentence and realized I need to get a life. Or at least a DVR. Which I think would be like plopping Lindsay Lohan in a cocaine factory and handing her a box of Ziploc baggies and one of those enormous purses she carries and telling her not to take anything.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Week 10: Sherrybaby

Every time I pick up a copy of Us Weekly, there’s a photo inside of Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal and her boyfriend, Peter Saaaaarsgaaard sitting at an outdoor cafĂ© looking very morose and sullen. They’re always dressed like dirty hoboes and look like three disaffected art school students whose parents won’t stop hassling them about getting a “real” degree. So they spend their days drinking coffee, smoking clove cigarettes and drawing on their forearms with black markers.

After seeing Sherrybaby last night, I finally get why these three are so bummed out at the world. It’s because Maggie was totally, one-hundred-percent robbed of an Academy Award for this performance.

This was a fantastic, gritty, uncomfortably real performance. As a former heroin addict trying to re-insert herself into her former life, Mags perfectly portrayed the ugly reality of post-addiction life.

And Maggie didn’t even have to wear a prosthetic nose or act like a mental retard to deliver a great performance. That’s right, Kidman, I went there. And, it should also be noted, Maggie Gyllenhaal is probably the only actress in Hollywood who hasn’t had a boob job. As you will see in many, many saggy bag scenes in this film. Good for you, Maggie. Way to fight the perky Man.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, I’m officially taking you off my creepy list. I’m still not convinced that you and your brother aren’t sleeping together, a la Meg and Jack White, but from this point forward, I’m willing to look the other way.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Week 10: Smokin' Aces

Welcome to Smokin' Aces, or as it's working title was probably called, "The Poor Man's Ocean's 11."

I imagine when Andy Garcia left the set of Ocean's 11 and headed over to Smokin' Aces, he found his plush trailer replaced by a sleeping bag tossed in the back of an El Camino and the tables of Perrier, smoked salmon and beef roulades replaced by a few cans of cheese puffs and something called 'olive loaf.'

This isn't the worst movie ever made, but it's not far off. First off, the heavy acting is left in the hands of Ryan Reynolds. Here's an actor who should only be in movies that begin with the phrase, "National Lampoon's Presents..."

Worse than Reynolds is Alicia Keyes cast as a sexy assassin. I'm always annoyed when non-actors are cast in major movies, like they really couldn't have tapped Vivica A. Fox for this role. Honestly, Hollywood, I know it's hard to believe, but she's available. I've always assumed that's what the "A" in Vivica A. Fox stands for.

Smokin' Aces is about Buddy "Aces" Israel (played by Jeremy Piven). He's a Las Vegas magician who's gotten himself on the wrong side of the mob and is ready to squeal on a high-placed mobster. A million-dollar contract is placed on Buddy Israel and assassins from around the country converge at the hotel where he's hiding out. If I can say one good thing about this movie, it's that offing Jeremy Piven is something I can really get behind.

I know, I know, everyone loves him in Entourage but have you seen Piven on his "mystic" Indian journey of spirituality that airs on the Travel Channel from time to time? After watching this smug horse's ass claim his affinity for the spiritual life, my chi will never be the same again. Go back to your Bowflex, Piven; nobody's buying the idea that your well runs deep.

The only redeeming quality of Smokin' Aces is the cameo of Jason Bateman. I love me some Jason Bateman. He serves absolutely no purpose in this movie, but you get to see him roll out of bed wearing a bra and women's panties. It's hilarious. And then Ryan Reynolds begins his dramatic monologue and we were right back to hating this movie.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bonus Film: The Professional

How on earth am I the only person who never saw this movie?

I think maybe I was always turned off by everyone going gaga over Natalie Portman's performance when she was all of twelve years old. I think it's because when I was twelve I was busy schlepping manure out of the barn and picking my pimples while the ingenue Portman jetted between her apartments in New York and L.A. It put a sour taste in my mouth for you, Portman. But I'm over it now. For the most part.

Anyway, my coworker Clinton loaned me his copy of The Professional and we watched it last night in lieu of the dreadful second disc of Black Books that I wrote about earlier this week.

If you're a citizen of this planet, you probably already know The Professional is about a skilled assassin who is forced to take in a young girl after her family is gunned down. Jean Reno plays the charmingly tortured assassin, Portman plays the girl and Gary Oldman plays the bad guy. Also, Danny Aiello is cast in the film as Danny Aiello. Who knew he was still alive? Well, good for you, Aiello. Way to play the part. Of yourself.

Now I finally understand why everyone raved about this movie. It's really good. And yes, Portman is good too. I'm a little sad to report that Gary Oldman overacts his part by leaps and bounds. I love Gary Oldman, but he didn't do justice to the bad guy, turning him a little campy when a straighter approach would have made the tension much better.

I was also a little disturbed at how sexualized Natalie Portman was, but we're living in the "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" age and so maybe we're all just a little overwrought about these things. Still, wouldn't it have been fun to watch Chris Hansen stroll into the assassin's apartment and say, "I bet you weren't expecting to find me here, were you?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Week 9: The Bourne Ultimatum

Man, Ben Affleck's ass must be really chapped about the success of the Bourne series. Just imagine him at the height of his popularity several years ago, stroking the hair plugs J. Lo made him get while he mused over the stacks of scripts studios were plying him with.

I could go Ocean's 11, he must have thought. Nah, Clooney and Pitt are all washed up. I could do this Bourne project. But no, that's probably going to be a bomb. I'll give it to Damon. That should be a laugh riot. Wait. What's this? Daredevil? A script about a blind superhero no one has ever heard of and probably will never care about? This is gold! Theatric gold! J. Lo, put on your mink eyelashes and tell me that you love me. When you're wearing your mink eyelashes, they hide the lies.

Lucky for audiences everywhere, Affleck took Daredevil and Damon took Bourne. And the world is a better place for it. I know this rekindles the deep fear that I am secretly a twelve-year-old boy, but I have to admit I love this series. Love it, love it, love it. It's thrilling, suspenseful and the action sequences are great. Especially since director Paul Greengrass took over the franchise in the Bourne Supremacy and introduced us to the handheld camera action sequence. It's a little dizzying at times, but it's so damn fun to watch, who cares? We were off on vacation today and it's too hot to do anything outside so we rushed off to the theater to see the final installment of the series.

The Bourne Ultimatum doesn't break any new ground but it's filled with the edge-of-your-seat action sequences we've come to expect. I have to admit that there are times in Ultimatum when Matt Damon is banged up so badly you have to question whether or not he has super-human abilities to recover from injuries. I once crashed a car in college and had minor whiplash, which I complained about at length for an entire week. Every time I took a sip of water I winced and re-told the story of my crash to anyone who would listen. I'm not proud of it, but it's true.

By my count, Jason Bourne endured four massive car crashes, including one car heaved over the edge of a multi-story car lot, landing upside down, and yet he still scampered away each time as though he'd just had a run-in with a pesky mosquito.

I'll admit that I never would have pegged Matt Damon to be an action hero, but you've got to give him his due in the Bourne series. He really did a good job. And I just watched him promoting the movie on The Daily Show and damned if he wasn't likable to boot.

Somewhere in Massachusetts sits a man with an incredibly large forehead and an old set of hair plugs, plotting his revenge on the success of the Bourne series. He's stroking the withering remnants of a pair of false eyelashes while he reads the script that he believes will redeem him: Daredevil 2: Still Blind and Rather Uninteresting.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Week 9: Black Books

Oh, Netflix, you vexing mistress, you got me again. You recommended Black Books to me and I fell for it hook, line and stinker.

Black Books is a TV sitcom on the BBC about a surly bookstore owner who is rude and sardonic to his clientele. I was expecting a sarcastic show full of that beloved dry British wit, given that the series was billed as "riotous" by Netflix. Apparently "riotous" is Netflix-speak for "includes an overused and abrasive laugh track."

I am sad to report that I made the fatal Netflix error of putting Black Books Series 2 in my queue before watching the first disc, so now it's already in the mail and we've wasted an entire rental period. Balls.

Even worse is the fact that I like to imagine there is someone at Netflix whose job it is to scour every member's rental lists, keeping a score of who rents the best movies, and, therefore, has the best taste in the entire country. Perhaps this list is shared with intelligence experts at the CIA so they can recruit super-elite members of a covert think-tank. Something like that.

The point is that I like to think our names are right near the top. He considers us renters of excellent tastes. And even though we don't know him, and he possibly doesn't exist, it MATTERS. When he can't sleep at night, he pulls out his lists and lovingly re-reads our rental history, nodding his agreement with our choices. But then this man finds that we have not only rented Gia in the past month, but also Black Books. The latter could be consider a slip-up, but Gia, no, that is unforgivable. And he purses his lips with a little twinge of disgust and rips our names right off his chart.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Week 8: The Good German

[The scene opens on the terrace of a palazzo overlooking Lake Como, Italy. A handsome and well-known actor is lounging on a chaise while his manservant tends him.]

CLOONEY: Manservant, how is my hair today?

MANSERVANT: Very peppery, sir.

CLOONEY: And salty?

MANSERVANT: Awfully salty, sir. Were I a tender fillet of beef I should like to roll myself across your lush salt and pepper. I would taste most divine with your fine seasoning upon me.

CLOONEY: Thank you, Manservant. That helps but I'm still feeling a bit blue today. Open up another $17,000 bottle of wine, why don't you?

MANSERVANT: I already have one open, sir. Why are you so troubled, if I may ask?

CLOONEY: It's Pitt.

MANSERVANT: Vile scum licking at the heels of Master Clooney's boots.

CLOONEY: Thanks, Manservant. It's just that he stole the World's Sexiest Man title from me.

MANSERVANT: [GASP!] This cannot be true, sir. Here, let me wipe the sweat from your brow with this Google stock certificate.

CLOONEY: I've got to think of a way to best Pitt. Maybe I should go after Aniston. That would get him. Except she's kind of a whiner, isn't she?

MANSERVANT: Very much so. Begging your pardon, Master Clooney, but may I suggest perhaps making a new film? Something Pitt has never done before?

CLOONEY: Good idea, Manservant. But I'm so bored with films. I've done it all really. Romance. Comedy. Serious political intrigue. Political statements.

MANSERVANT: And you were on Roseanne.

CLOONEY: BITE YOUR TONGUE! I'm very angry now. Hand me that priceless Ming vase so I can smash it against the cliffs.

MANSERVANT: Better sir?

CLOONEY: Much. Now, where were we? Right, a film. Hey, I know. I'll do something in black and white. No one is doing black and white. That'll really get people talking.

MANSERVANT: Begging your pardon, Master, but Sin City was in black and white and was quite good.

CLOONEY: Balls. I don't care. I'm still doing black and white. I'll set it in Germany. Yes, Pitt's never done Germany. And maybe I'll cast a female lead Pitt's never worked with. She needs to be tall, thin and pale. Very waspy. Paltrow! I'll cast Paltrow!

MANSERVANT: Er---ahem, vile Pitt was engaged to Paltrow, sir. They were in a movie together, too.

CLOONEY: Damn you, Pitt! Curses! Manservant, hand me that stack of thousand-dollar bills so I can fling them into the ocean. There, that feels better. Eureka! I've got it. I'll do the Holocaust. I'm sure Pitt hasn't done Holocaust. Everyone loves the Holocaust. And there hasn't been a good film about it for decades. That's it!

MANSERVANT: Sir, if I may remind you sir, of Mr. Spielberg's film, Schindler's List? It was about the Holocaust. And it was in black and white.

CLOONEY: That piece of art-house crap? I'm sure no one remembers it. I'll make my story much more complex. Almost too complex. And I'll make it vague. And not very interesting. And it will bore people so much that they'll think they're just not smart enough to understand all the deep plot lines and innuendo. And just to really get Pitt's goat, I'll cast that drab little Tobey Maguire.


CLOONEY: Gross, indeed. That's sure to win a nomination. And I'll get Soderberg to film it. He'll do anything for me.

MANSERVANT: Like Ocean's 13? Wink, wink.

CLOONEY: Ha! Ha! Ha! Yes, we got him good on that one, didn't we? Ah, Manservant, we've had some good times, haven't we? I think I'm ready for a swim, Manservant. Fire up the yacht.

MANSERVANT: The grand deluxe yacht or the super premium titanium yacht, sir?

CLOONEY: Whichever one is bigger than Pitt's.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Well Played, NBC

Well, here is a sentence I never thought I’d write:

NBC is coming out with a remake of the Bionic Woman this fall and it looks great.


Fallen out of your chair, dear reader? Maybe I'm just a thirteen-year-old boy at heart, but I’m telling you this show honestly looks good. I can't even think of anything sarcastic to say about it. You've stumped me, NBC. Touche.

Naturally, NBC managed to work in a few duds as well, including a hideous show based on a Candace Bushnell book called Lipstick Jungle, which seems to be all the worst chick-lit cliches thrown together in one stinky pot.

This is how NBC describes the show: "These women aren't looking for Mr. Big. They ARE Mr. Big" [insert eye roll here]. I guess that's because NBC couldn't just come out and say, "Come watch three sluts whore it up in prime time."

I wouldn't be so horrified by this show if the star wasn't Brooke Shields. And if she wasn't parading around in every scene in a bra and panties. Ms. Shields was once a very lovely, feminine girl, but as she's gotten older, she has come down with a case of what my friend Brad calls "Man-Daughter" disease. Let's face it, with her small chest, big muscles and hulking chiseled jaw, she looks like an enormous drag queen. And she's still the best-looking one on the show.

Okay, enough about TV. I promise we'll be back to movies soon. Coming soon is my review on The Good German, which from the twenty minutes I watched of this affected movie last night, is going to be a doozy. Does anyone know how to say, "enough already, George Clooney," in German?