Monday Morning Critic 3.15.2010 – My continuing adventures in offensive hilarity, four star endings and a getting shoved into a Locker.

On tap this week: My continuing adventures in offensive hilarity, four star endings and a getting shoved into a Locker. And slightly much more!

If you’ve ever hung out with a random group of people you know, sometimes you get a crazy in the mix. And in the group of people I occasionally meet up with from my old stomping grounds, there’s Crazy Heidi.

Heidi’s a divorcee doing the dating bit again and she’s also got a couple screws loose. Hence the name, of course, but she’s not “crazy for a girl” kind of crazy. I’m talking like seriously crazy. So of course I’m the one who gets to chat with her, and the topic came up of relationships. She had just broken up with her boyfriend and was on the prowl, again, based on what she was wearing. She was about 15 years (and 35 pounds) from making the short dress with enough cleavage to leave little to the imagination look anyway other than screaming “I’m over 40 and want people to think I’m sexy like they did back when I was young, yet I’m not.”

Sometimes you just have to admit that Mother Nature has won the battle, man, and dress more appropriately. It’s why I think the whole “cougar” bit is kind of classless; 99% of gals past 40 are trying to recapture their youth by dressing trashy when they don’t have the body to pull it off anymore. If you’re over 40 and look like Jennifer Anniston, by all means do the skimpy dress bit. But if you look like you ate Jennifer Anniston you shouldn’t dress like her, that’s all I’m saying.

Crazy Heidi probably could pull the crazy routine back when she was a smoking hot 27 year old, because guys will put up with nearly anything if a woman is insanely hot, but you can’t pull off crazy if you don’t have the goods to back it up anymore. It just reeks of “I give hand jobs in gas station bathrooms without feeling ashamed” kind of trashy instead of “I look sexy and want everyone to notice me” kind of trashy.

Her main complaint was that he didn’t spend enough time with her. Working 40 plus a week, plus working on a play, took all his time up and she was not happy. Thus she made the “me or the play” speech and he decided she wasn’t worth the hassle. It leads into a conversation about how she needs her man to see her “at least” two to three times a week for substantial time because you’re “building a relationship” and whatnot. I can see spending a lot of time with someone early on, but I’ve always been an advocate of two people having separate lives outside of one another. The best relationships I’ve seen are of two people who come together with two distinct social groups, as opposed to being known purely as an “ampersand” that does stuff and knows people only in that aspect. I argued with her that you can get by without seeing each other because you do need lives outside of one another and she just would not get it. Thus leading to a line I immediately thought was an insanely offensive one to her.

“I mean come on, it’s not like you have to be Siamese ass-buddies to have an effective relationship with someone.”

It was awkwardly silent, and then Not Gay Chris (he’s more effeminate then the most flaming gay guy I’ve ever known but is straight with a smoking hot girlfriend, weirdly enough) started laughing. And then Crazy Heidi went over to sit on a couch and listen to the jazz band playing, thus making it completely awkward as I thought she was completely offended as my buddy Terry came over. After explaining the situation, Terry brought some perspective and explained that she was offended coming in and it was nothing I said specifically that set her off.

“So technically I didn’t say something asinine again?” – Me

“No, oddly enough.” – Terry

Then there was this awkward silence amongst the four of us gathered. It was one of those weird kinds of moments when no one knows exactly what to say and, after copious amounts of alcohol, no one wants to be known as the person who embodies the old axiom “en vino veritas.” I took the final gulp on my Newcastle Brown Ale and just had to say it.

“High five!”

But then again, it’s thoughts like these kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

One of the things that have always bothered me about cinema is that of the finale, or more explicitly, that a film can still be considered good despite a clusterfonk of an ending. Normally it’s not a topic I’d think about but Jim Emerson, Ebert’s Blogger in Residence, brought it up this week as part of a look at something else far less interesting to me as a cinephile. His main point in bringing it up is about the psychology about it, which bored me to tears, but the thing that did intrigue me enough to write about it is this concept that a great film can have a bad ending and it’s all ok.

I read Emerson because he usually has interesting things to think about, which in turn sometimes does inspire this aspect of my column. One of the things about cinema that I’ve always thought is that there are no real perfect films, as you can be a pansy and nit-pick every aspect of nearly every great film made until you have enough ammunition to think it is bad. I’ve heard someone try to justify why they think Citizen Kane is a terrible film, which prompted me to fire them from movies immediately.

Every website out there has a column where someone does precisely that in a matter of speaking. It’s kind of a cliché amongst movie websites that there are always a handful of things that usually come with the website hosting package:

1. One guy who nit-picks everything to death, making you wonder if they actually enjoy any movie they watch
2. A regular column about why a director or actor most people like (Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, et al) really sucks
3. Someone with an argument as to why Michael Bay is the anti-Christ

My theory has always been that a perfect film and a great film are never really the same thing; Pauline Kael had a great argument about this as well, but perfect cinema never really exists because art is never perfect. But the one thing a great film, which is what I call any film you can rate at the four star level, is one that can’t have that major, noticeable flaw like a bad ending. My bugaboo about cinema, and where I disagree with Emerson, is that a great film has to have a great ending.

Scott “Raven” Levy once said in an interview that for a wrestling match to be perfect, it has to have a perfect ending. That is, a five star match has to have a five star ending. I think the same applies to cinema in that a film can’t be considered to be a masterpiece unless it has an ending to match its first two acts. Case in point: the Bruce Willis action flick Die Hard, the film that changed the action film as we know it forever.

The reason why Die Hard works so well is that it ends on the perfect note. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) has just been dropped out of the Nakatomi building. His lead henchman has just been shot to death. And John McClane (Willis) walks off into the sunset (so to speak) after saving the day. Everything about the finale ties in nice and neat; it’s the exact way the film needs to end. But imagine if Die Hard ends with a big song and dance number where McClane and Gruber sing “Just a Gigolo” by David Lee Roth?

While I imagine it would be excessively entertaining, Die Hard kind of dies at that moment. The two hours or so of sheer awesomeness that has transpired to this point is completely ruined by this and no one in their right mind can go “that was an awesome film.”

And that’s the greater point: every great film has an ending to match, pure and simple. The joy of cinema is that it gives you a complete story in one experience. A great ending also can elevate a good film to a great one. Two years ago the Super Bowl was about 50 minutes of boring with an awesome fourth quarter; it was viewed as a great game because of how it ended despite the fact that the lead up to it wasn’t very good football. Cinema can do that same thing though rarely does; usually great cinema ends on a great note. Anything less is just uncivilized.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Hurt Locker

The Oscars were nothing if not interesting this year as The Hurt Locker found an audience in the Academy it was never able to find in theatres. Which is a shame, really, because I thought it was great when it was in theatres initially and thought it never got the due it deserved. Probably due to its subject matter (Iraq War II), I think, but it was deserving of its Oscar and deserves to be viewed.

Following the tale of a team that takes out IEDs, the film is about purpose. The quote that begins the film, about how warfare can be a drug, is a bit misleading. James (Jeremy Renner in an Academy Award nominated role) is the new guy on the team to replace the one who has fallen (Guy Pearce). He loves the adrenaline of his job, which is dismantling the bombs that endanger the lives of the men around him, but the film is about his journey to accepting why he does what he does. Doing this job is his purpose in life; finding that purpose is a drug every person wants, that thrill of doing what you are meant to do with your life. In the end, it’s why he ends up back in Iraq at the end of his tour (and all the violence that it surrounded). The men around him know that’s not their purpose, which is why they end up going back to their lives and family. For James, this is exactly what he was meant to do and meant to be.

And the film still ends up kicking all sorts of ass, making me wonder how I didn’t have it as the best film of 2009. I was torn between that and Public Enemies, I admit, and even now I could still flip them and not be completely satisfying. It’s a perfect film, however, and well worth the viewing.

Highest recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Bounty Hunter – Gerard Butler and Jennifer Anniston re-imagine Midnight Run but with sexual tension.

Skip It – Gerard Butler may forever get a pass from me for 300, but this looks like The Ugly Truth was a year ago, i.e. an aesthetically pleasing couple but in a third rate story.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Some kid in middle school gets picked on. And stuff.

Skip It – Unless you’re a pedophile, don’t waste 10 bucks being surrounded by little kids.

Repo Men – Jude Law repossesses organs for a living, than has to go on the run when he can’t pay the mortgage on his. Sci-fi action ensues.

See It – If the red-band is any indication, this should at least be a fun little actioneer.

The Runaways – A recounting of the brief career of the band that launched Joan Jett to stardom and gave a kick-ass song to the Dazed and Confused soundtrack.

See it – Rock biopics vary in quality but usually they’re quite entertaining.

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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