Monday Morning Critic – 6.29

On tap this week:
— It’s never to early to piss on Michael Jackson’s grave
— “Are you kidding me?” moment 48b
— Dragging my knuckles
And slightly much more!

One thing pissed me off this week more than ANYTHING else: Michael Jackson’s death. Or, I should say, the lack of celebration for it. Why? Because a creepy pedophile can’t prey on little kids anymore, then pay everyone off to look the other way, that’s why. We should be dancing in the streets and throwing midgets at inflatable bowling pins that are disproportionally big, not being all sad and whatnot.

Look, I get the fact that he was a cultural icon and one of the biggest selling artists ever. And I respect his musical talents; once upon a time I enjoyed his music, I readily admit, but really who didn’t? It’s like finding that one guy who didn’t see Titanic between all 800 showings on TNT and its unprecedented run in theatres. Or that guy who thinks Michael Jordan was just a good shooting guard. And I see why people are mourning his death; he was an iconic figure for over 40 years and his death was a complete shocker. I imagine Jackson’s death to my generation is an awful lot like the death of Elvis Presley was for my parents. But, frankly, it’s not a bad thing.

While people are crying and whaling about Jacko’s death, I think of it in a much more civilized manner. Michael Jackson stopped being relevant as an artist about 1989 or so. Sure he had a handful of albums, but if any artist can be identified as being a signature artist of the 1980s it would be him. The sheer volume of his most popular work comes from that period and everything after is a stark decline in quality. He peaked before he hit 30 and his fall was long and hard. Michael Jackson had perhaps the most disastrous fall of any music act ever and the only shocker is that he wasn’t found like David Carradine as far as I’m concerned. In fact, if you really think hard about it I’m shocked it wasn’t the senior citizen croaking of a hard attack and the “King of Pop” dying in an accident that intended to heighten his manual stimulation to a much higher degree than normal.

Think about it; his best friend is probably Bubbles the chimp and he’d make a terrible spotter. And if an accident happened, it’s not like there’s an “ape to human” translation button for 911 calls. One can only imagine that Bubbles would try and stop Jacko’s death by autoerotic asphyxia via the ape method of accurately flinging pooh at the rope in an attempt to sever it. Granted, with Carradine’s death being called a “conspiracy” by his family because of “ninja assassins” who killed him, then put a rope around his wing-dang, perhaps we should totally investigate it some more. Maybe THE FOOT is killing off has-beens and making it look like human actions. Watch out, Cindy Crawford. They’re coming . . . FOR YOU!

All joking aside, this is a sad day. I feel genuine pity for Michael Jackson’s family as they lost one of their own and that’s not a good thing. My heart goes out to them in this time of need. But I also feel good because now you can buy a Beatles album and know you’re not funding the cover up of another of Jacko’s young boy-humping escapades. Yeah, Michael Jackson owned the entire Beatles album rights and made billions off them. All you idiots who rushed out to buy their 300 greatest hits albums released in the last 15 years put obscene amounts of money in his pockets. The four Beatles, as well as original drummer Pete Best, made millions off it. Jacko probably hit the ten figure jackpot off it. I bet the Beatles library alone provided payoffs for his hunger for pre-pubescent boy. He probably called it “the other white meat.”

The amusing thing is that Al Sharpton said something along the lines that we should forgive his sins because they were not as big as his talent. Excuse me? So how many boys did he diddle that can forgiven because he made the “Thriller” album? It’s absurd because people don’t want to associate Jacko with the sort of evil we associate with John Wayne Gacy. And don’t give me the “Michael was never convicted” bit. He paid off Jordy Chandler’s family and probably many others that didn’t get publicized. If he was innocent he’d have stood on the court steps of every major court and fought tooth and nail to prove his innocence. But he paid off the family of a kid who could identify specific aspects of little Jacko. If you put 10 penises in a lineup with mine, I doubt I could pick my own junk out of a lineup and yet this kid knew exactly what Jacko’s junk looked like. The police then took a look down in Michael’s pants and he was right. So $20 million later, he never went to prison moved to Bahrain because its child-diddling policy apparently is quite better than ours.

For all the talk that “Michael never got a chance to grow up” or that Joe beat him, the one thing remains that no one ever discuss. Michael Jackson did become an adult and as such you have to eventually act like one. We make fun of people who can never escape certain periods of their lives; there’s always the guy who never truly left high school, college or a job that is the source of ridicule in every part of the world. Michael may have wanted to relive his childhood because he never had but it doesn’t excuse what he did to ruin the lives of the children who came into his life.

There’s a special place in hell for two types of people, I think. Those who do violence to animals are one. Those who harm children are the other. I hope he’s there, rotting away, and in about 40 years he can say hi to Mike Vick for me.

Random Thoughts of the Week

So the Academy has announced that this year’s nominee field will be expanded back to 10. Are you kidding me? Things like this kind of get to me much in the same way the NCAA field for basketball keeps expanding.

I’m not much of a traditionalist, I readily admit, but there are some traditions that should be saved. And narrowing down the field for Best Picture, and the other categories, to five makes sense. Usually five films nominated are about as good as it gets for the prestige season; it’s an odd number and a fair one. You can’t include everyone but you can’t just have three nominees either. Five gives you enough variety to make it worthwhile and it usually goes like this. You get three films that deserve to be there, one that you can make a case for either way and a fifth that doesn’t. It’s not perfect but it’s about as good as it gets. Expanding the field to ten is just going to further dilute the winner’s status in the end schemata of it all; more crappy films that come out at the end of the year are going to be given the “Academy Award nominated” mantra.

It is like being a state champion in a sport in Wisconsin; there’s like twelve divisions for a state that’s like 1/3 the size of Illinois, which has two. It doesn’t mean as much when EVERYONE is a champion in the same that it will mean less to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The Academy is becoming more akin to the Hollywood Foreign Press and their Golden Globes every year and this is the first step. Pretty soon it’ll be 10 for the major categories, then 10 for every category. Pretty soon it’ll take two days to get through the whole thing; Jerry Lewis will have telethons for Muscular Dystrophy that will be shorter than the Academy Awards. And it’s not like the best five films every year get nominated for the love of Pete.

Far from it, actually, as there’s never been a year where you can honestly say the best five films were a) nominated and b) actually seen by people in the Academy. The Oscar in any category isn’t for the best of the year; it’s for the best of the last four months, if that. Everyone knows it and it is Hollywood’s secret that no one ever acknowledges publicly.

It stopped being that way after Titanic, as films nominated were progressively seen by less and less people. In my lifetime it’s gone from being that everyone who likes movies actually seeing most of the films up for nomination to maybe seeing two of the five. People like Travis Leamons and me who see everything nominated are the exception, not the rule, and Hollywood knows this.

Hence the extension to ten films from the previous five. It’s not like they’re going to nominate anything differently. Maybe they’ll throw a bone and give a nomination to a film that was seen by lots of people and was popular but don’t kid yourself. The Dark Knight probably wouldn’t have gotten nominated in a field of ten despite it being one of the few that can vie for title of “Best film of the Decade.”

All this does is allow Hollywood to showcase more films at prestige season because of the economic woes. Throwing out ten films about retarded gay midgets with drinking problems as the best of the year instead of five doesn’t solve the problem that Hollywood has when it comes to awards season. Fix that and the Oscars will really matter again.

When everyone is special, no one is.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – Knuckle Draggers

Knuckle Draggers - 1 sheet

I get requests for publicity all the time, which is a hilarious concept to me at least, but I always find it amusing to read the e-mails. Most of them are grammatically abhorrent, amongst other things, and anyone who doesn’t take the time to actually use my name (as in “Hi Scott”) doesn’t deserve the *ahem* privilege of being pimped. So imagine my surprise when the star of a film, and one of its producers, sends me a nice letter asking for help promoting his film.

Paul J. Alessi, who co-stars in Knuckle Draggers as well as being one of the producers, wrote a nice letter and had the distinction of being friends with my boss Murtz Jaffer. For Murtz I have done a lot of things over the years at InsidePulse so helping out one of his buddies is something I think I’m contractually obligated to do. We did some nice stuff for David Spaltro and his excellent flick …Around so I was more than happy to go to the well again for Paul and his feature Knuckle Draggers..

Focusing on Ethan (Ross McCall) and Kyle (Alessi), it’s a relationship film. Ethan has just been dumped by his girlfriend over “creative differences” and his foul-mouthed, misogynistic brother Kyle is in town to help him out. Over the course of 90 minutes, both brothers learn a lot about themselves and what love is all about via the shared experience of dating in the 21st century. And it’s the sort of relationship drama that would put He’s Just Not That Into You to shame if and when it gets released into theatres.

It’s interesting that sometimes you can have a cast of relative unknowns and by virtue of letting them act, and having a great script, that sometimes what you get is a great film. Alessi is a marvel on the screen; he gets all the best stuff, of course, but it’s impressive to see a relationship movie where a man act like man and doesn’t have to apologize for it. His opening bit where he takes a drink back from a gal at a bar who conned it out of him (under the pretense of “buy me a drink” as a means of flirting, and then the boyfriend arrives) is insanely funny and well done.

And it isn’t the film’s highlight, which usually would be the case, as the film turns into an honest look at the male-female dynamic. That’s the part that shocked me; usually every relationship film is about a guy who has to completely to change for her and all his buddies do the same. It’s nice to see a film about relationships not end up being some fantasy vehicle for women and be something more than the clichéd crap designed as counter programming. This is a film that doesn’t look for easy ways out when it comes to the complexity of human emotions and we’re better for it. In the end, after a twist that’s easy to see, the reactions of several characters come as legitimate things to do because of their established patterns of behavior.

I wish I could say I’m getting something for all the verbal flattery, but unfortunately I’m not. The screener he sent me was it and I can say that I’d pay to see this movie. I think that’s about as good a compliment as you can give an independent film looking for a distributor.

Strong recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and Northwestern University Co-Eds with low standards at The Keg

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The dinosaurs and whatnot all return because there’s still money to be made.

Skip It – It’s animated and hasn’t been done by Pixar. That should tell you all you need to know about it.

Public Enemies – The tale of the takedown of John Dillinger as told by Michael Mann.

SEE IT – I have seen this already and I can say this. It’s [redacted] awesome. See it.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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