Oblivious Review (vol 3)

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That last guy, Stephen, was fired. He was no good. I gave him the review job and he did terribly. What he did was disgusting. The Swimsuit thing. It was pornographic. He’s outta here. Out of destructooblivion. I won’t remove his abomination so that it remains as a reminder to what happens when one exercises poor judgement and allows just any sonofabitch to write for your blog.

Disgraceful. The whole thing. I mean, plus the guy tried to mimic my (Editor In Cheif/Supreme Dictator For Life, Aaron L.) writing style. Lame. Not tight.

We’re gonna try a new writer today, his name is Ricardo Griffen. Take it away Recardo.

Thanks boss, alright, politics:

Not too much has changed. Teddy Cruz is still a Luz. Er. (looz-er.) He and Trump are Ones on a scale of One-to-Bernie. Governor Kasich and Hilary Clinton are now tied, landing at Five on the Bernie scale. And lastly, believe it or not Bernie still registers a Bernie on the scale of One-to-Bernie.

Destructo Oblivion thinks that Kasich and Hilary Clinton are essentially the new right and Bernie is the left, with folks like Trump and Cruz just hanging on to their old doggy ways for dear life. Like old dogs. Like stupid, dead, stubborn, dirty, ratty, annoying, yelping, ugly, screeching, racist, ranting, mangy, grating, diseased, xenophobic, blabbering, disgusting, dogs. History is trying to yank their ideals from them so that the modern world can spin free of their burden, but still they cling. Desperate, pathetic, hollow souls. No original thought in front or behind them. Very sad.

You heard Teddy Cruz speak though? Beautiful, isn’t it. Just kidding, he sounds like a sick penguin. Like a toy penguin with a button that you push and out comes a line from the Tea Party or a right-wing talk-show guy. Really original. Really cutting edge. Really cool stuff coming from Teddy “No Ballgame.”

On to Cinema.

Kicking And Screaming (1995) (Not the 2005 Will Ferrell film but the 1995 “indie” film by a fellow named Noah Baumbach.)

Someone wrote an article once that ended up in the New Yorker or something called “The Unbearable Whiteness of Wes Anderson.” I didn’t read it because I don’t think that Wes Anderson is unbearably white. I think he’s a brilliant director. My definition of brilliant in this case is his distinct voice and plain superiority as compared to other writers and directors.

I’m thinking about this and my gut says read the article, even if I’m not going to like it. Usually I try to read opposing views. But I have to meet a friend in a bit and I want to finish this review for the Supreme Dictator so it’s gonna get skipped. I know, I know, sue me.

A friend brought up the Whiteness article a few years ago. And I’ve taken issue with it ever since.

I mean c’mon, unbearably white? Heck yeah he’s white. He was born into a Dallas suburb. He was rich, went to private school- all that. He palled around with the Wilson brothers. (I like them, some people don’t.) Yeah he’s a white guy, and stereotypically so in many ways. But he’s one of the best, so let him represent his people through art. Yes, he communicates best and most accurately to rich white people, but his talent allows him to transcend that and reach diverse audiences, in my opinion.

But Gosh Damn, is my point! The guy makes good movies. And what are we supposed to do? Strip him of his artistic license?

Heyyyyyyyy, Wes, it’s been decided that you are white-unbearably white-in fact, and we need you to stop making films. Yeah, you heard right. Sorry man but you have to pack it up. You’re gonna be detailing cars at Ed’s Auto Emporium. We need to make space for other voices- you know, not unbearably white people. No, No, you can’t be an attorney or an accountant, that would defeat the purpose! 

We can talk about Anderson’s first film, Bottle Rocket and it’s problems with pacing and incoherence resulting from the fog of youth. But he’s got talent man, and if there are elements to his work that are indicative of systemic racism, old-fashioned gender roles, class roles, and anything else that is under the microscope, lets talk about it. (I suppose then that that is exactly what that Unbearably White article does, and I should eat my words.) Did Wes have an easier road to the top? He sure did, and let’s discuss. But let’s not call him unbearably fucking white.

Kicking and Screaming, that movie, is unbearably fucking white. That’s what the article should have been about. The film is about a handful of rich white guys who graduate from college and can’t figure out what to do with their lives so they stick around their Alma mater and environs the year after graduation. Got two hours to completely waste?

Yes, it’s about a handful of smarmy fellas who linger at their college. It’s anticlimactic before it begins. It isn’t grounded. Some scenes are at bars. Some are at a house where a guy named Max likes to sit in a chair by the stairs and do crossword puzzles. It’s a really bad movie. They wine about life. Oh yeah, it’s called Kicking and Screaming because one of the most unwatchable casts in the history of film plays a group of young people who ferociously procrastinate the entrance into adulthood.

I think one could argue that it’s unbearably white in that they simply have the option to kick and scream into adulthood. Poor folks don’t have that option. Perhaps it’s unbearably white because the college degree is taken for granted. When you are twenty-two, you have a degree. It’s simple. This is the world these folks hail from. Problems begin AFTER the degree. For lots and lots of people, getting the degree is the problem, or the monumental task. They can’t decide to “linger” around after graduation because they, well, just don’t know what to do!

Again, can you think of a worse plot and setting?:

College campus after graduation, dudes don’t know what to do. Main dude can’t figure out whether or not he should follow his girlfriend to Prague.

Man! All these choices! Grad school? Should I move to Prague to be with my lady? Should I write and direct a movie where I include scenes that take place in a creative writing class? All these entitled options! Hey bro, what about when your girlfriend realizes that you’re just a puny little bitch who wines a lot and has skated through life on the easy level and she dumps you? THEN it isn’t an option, THEN it’s a thing you have to deal with. Sometimes you don’t get to impose your will on others. SHE was on the other end of his “decision,” or option. A human, a female. A real person. She gets to exercise options too, that’s what this movie didn’t get, in my opinion. And for those reasons it truly is unbearably white.

I guess here an opposing argument arises: Hey, Recardo, maybe the article was about Wes Anderson and not Baumbach because Anderson is relevant today, and people know who he is.

My response to that is that despite the fact that all these years later Kicking and Screaming is a no-name footnote of a movie on a cable network, it was still someone’s shot. And that’s what this is about, right, white men getting a shot ahead of more deserving voices? Wes Anderson had a shot when he was young after he made a black and white 15 minute short film. It was seen by James L. Brooks and he gave them a shot at a full-length movie. From what I’ve read and heard, none of this process came easy. And ultimately, Anderson and company exhibited, in my opinion, humility in Bottle Rocket that is absent in Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming.

All the white men in this movie wear over-sized sport coats. That’s how college kids dress you know. The cool ones at least, right? Nah, these fellas wear ridiculous sport coats as metaphors for the cumbersome burden of their wet-blanket white male world. Their coats are the movie; you’re looking at it because someone frivolously paid for it. Annoying, expensive, difficult to ignore on account of its gaudy presence.

“Hey, uhh, my old man bought this sport coat.” or “Hey, uhh, my old man knows this movie producer.” It’s all the same.

The movie fucking sucks. I could go on and on. I only know about it because the director has collaborated with Wes Anderson in recent years. Somehow he figured out how to make more bearable white films, like The Squid And The Whale and Margot At The Wedding. Something humbled Noah Baumbach and he got better, though that’s beside the point.

Baumbach made Kicking and Screaming when he was 25 because he was a rich white American guy. And that’s it. He knew people. This is the kind of whiteness that needs to be ousted in lieu of a non-white-american-males. Baumbach’s pathway to filmdom was easier than just about anyone else in the world. Easy paths are fine, but not when the folks walking them have nothing to offer. That’s the shit that needs to be stricken.

The movie is so terrible. None of the characters are likable except for the women who react to male bitchiness. Most scenes are dominated by white males, sitting around talking like Holden Caulfield minus 40 IQ points. They like to ding into conversations, as if on a game show. Someone offers up a line of trivia or asks a hypothetical, like if you’d rather eat poop or drink pee. So this happens and then one of the other scrawny lemmings in a sport coat goes ding, and gives an equally stupid retort.

After one of their poker night ramblings, Parker Posey screams at them “YOU ALL SOUND THE SAME,” because they do. It’s a simple line and it works because it’s true. It’s SO true that the line is used by another female actor in a later scene, and relative to the barrage of hollow witticisms hurled by the boys, the line works even though it’s been recycled.

The best part is when Posey just completely rips apart her lothario boyfriend for his stupid long hair and clothes and everything. She does an excellent job, and I’m pretty sure it was unscripted. It’s no surprise that she, all these years later, is the biggest name in this movie. None of the other actors had the wit or charisma to garner future work despite having played the game of life on the easy level. Maybe that says something about playing the game of life on the easy level.

Hey, I’m all about equality. Let’s open up some spots for minorities. Lots of spots. Let’s cut some of the fat. Get rid of all the untalented white privileged people in art. Seriously, I have no problem with that. Transformers? Look at the Wikipedia page for that film. Michael Bay and the rest of those folks are white. And the product is shit. Let’s cut it. What is whiter than a white studio head greenlighting a SEQUEL to a film to be directed by white people, produced by white people, and starring white folks? Nothing is whiter. So get ’em out of here. Those movies are all shit. All of them. Talk about unbearable.

But let’s go easy on the fellas with talent, like Mr. Anderson.

You know, I really should just reiterate that Baumbach became a good director. He must have had an enormous breakthrough via a psychedelic drug or psychotherapy because something humbled him and he ended up making good movies. Really good movies, actually. It’s not his fault that he was able to make Kicking and Screaming in his twenties. It was the system. Ironically, it was perhaps it was the world’s rejection of his sloppy, irrelevant, empty film making that humbled him to the point where he eventually found his talent. Compare Kicking and Screaming with The Squid and The Whale if you have four hours to spare. At best, Kicking and Screaming is the before picture of The Squid And The Whale‘s after.

That’s the end of this review.

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