Monday Morning Critic – The Purse Switch Gag, Masterpieces remaining of 2010 and Dog Bite Dog

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

Sometimes you got to have fun when you’re the designated driver for the evening. That’s one of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as I’ve gone from being the hooligan in the backseat being driven to everyone’s favorite chauffeur is that being the designated driver can be a lot of fun. At least it was this weekend as I drove around some friends of mine.

One of my closest friends Jon was in town to visit his lady so the three of us, plus her really good looking friend “Hot Diane,” all piled into my car for a night of drinking. And since I was driving I was the sucker charged with driving, since none of us wanted to pay for a cab (or three), I got to deal with all of their rampant shenanigans for a change. Nothing like being a driver for some wildly inebriated folks to make you wonder why you agreed to it in the first place, I admit, but unfortunately the ladies made a fatal mistake: they abandoned us to go dancing to the noxious tunes at the even more noxious dance club they wanted to hit up.

Jon and I were not having a good time, but they were, as he was still slightly sober and people watching had gone from mildly amusing to downright mean in our commentary. Jon is the guy who coined the phrase “She looked like a shaved Ewok,” after all, and we do have this ability to get into an amazing amount of trouble when left alone. Thus, left alone and out of random people to make fun of, we turned our collective mischief upon the ladies because … well … we were bored. I had a brilliant idea: let’s switch out their sim cards in their smart phones, thus switching out their phone numbers and what not, but neither of us were technologically savvy enough to pull that particular prank off so I decided for an old classic that Jon half drunkenly agreed to: the Purse Switch.

It was either that or the South Africa, where you play those stupid horns whenever someone starts speaks, stops speaking, enters or leaves a room. But neither of us had a Vuvuzela handy so the Purse Switch had to do.

For those not savvy on dumb pranks, the Purse Switch is when you take two purses of people who are friends and exchange all of their contents. Not just some stuff in either purse, mind you, but everything in it. From the change at the bottom to paper clips and loose Tic-Tacs, everything has to be switched to and fro. It’s not a very imaginative one but it leads to gambling: you make bets on just how long it’ll take both ladies to figure it out. When “Hot Diane” and Jon’s lady came back, I had 10 minutes and Jon had five. Nick, our mutual friend and burgeoning standup comedian who we interrupted from a sound slumber (it was like 2am when this happened and I’m not sure if he understood what we were saying or was even awake) had bet on the following morning. It took them five minutes to figure it out. Mainly it was because one of the purses was a little lopsided, and not in the position it had been when they had gone to dance, but it’s not as if we did this in a bubble.

Midway through, Jon and I were interrupted by a gentleman who asked what we were doing. He was probably thinking we were trying to get all the money out of these two purses because they were emptied and the two of us look like a twenty-something Beavis & Butt-head on Dianabol. So there was only one way to play this off without getting tossed out and/or arrested. I looked at Jon, he looked at me and we then looked at him. There was only one thing to say.

“It’s a gag.”

We then continued on our merry way, he shrugged and walked away, and it’s moments like these that confirmed why I didn’t get into the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

With the end of August upon us, we’re at the end of the summer blockbuster season and we’re at the odd month in between blockbuster season and prestige season. You have the start of the films intended to win when it comes award season, the counter programming that just isn’t quite there and every film trying to get into theatres before the Christmas rush. Christmas, as Avatar and Sherlock Holmes proved explicitly last year, can be just as good a season for the right film as the summer because people (more specifically, teenagers) have nothing to do and lots of money on them. But one thing keeps bothering me as I look at the slate of movies coming out between now and the end of the year:

There isn’t much remaining that looks interesting coming out.

As I keep going through the months of the slate of films scheduled to be released by the end of 2010, there’s not even 10 I could say I’m jazzed up to see. Since there’s not been much to write about this week in film, and I’m too lazy to go for another week of the Wit and Wisdom Draft, I’ve gone through the rest of the year’s slate and there are only 10 films that genuinely seem to be capable of being tremendous cinematic experiences. There’ll be plenty that are good films but the sort of beautiful cinema that makes you stand up and notice has been in short supply this year. It’s as if the 2000s used up the allotment of great cinema and now we’re in for a decade that limps in when others roared. And as such I’ve decided to compile a list of the only films that look to have that four star potential to them.

As such, here’s my Top Six Films That Might Yet Be Masterpieces of 2010

1. Mesrine – It’s easy to compare a film to Scarface, either of them, but everything about this film screams that it could be something special. The fact that it’s being split up like Che bothers me, but then again it will be probably released onto DVD as one full epic.

2. The Town – I’m a fan of Affleck and Gone Baby Gone showed that he might have some directorial chops. The trailer for this looks incredible and he has an even better cast than he did for that film.

3. Jack Goes Boating – Philip Seymour Hoffman is the sort of leading man who really shouldn’t be a headliner in modern Hollywood. Yet how does he manage to do so? Because he’s probably the most talented and most consistently good actor working today, that’s why. So getting behind the camera is pretty daring for him all things considered, but this isn’t a huge budget or a blockbuster. It’s a small, personal film and I think there’s something special waiting to be found in it.

4. Nowhere Boy – John Lennon has been done to death in terms of biopics and portrayals, mainly because he got shot to death as a washed up has-been and reborn as the “voice of his generation” snuffed too soon. But no one has tackled him as a young man and his life before the Beatles, which leaves enough room for some fertile ground to be explored. The man, or more specifically the boy, before the fame and the adulation is bound to have something to say hopefully about his early years. That and I’m curious as to how Aaron Johnson from Kick-Ass is when he goes outside the box.

5. The Company Men – If Up in the Air was about the man making the layoff, then this might be the film that shows the faces getting laid off. An all-star cast doesn’t hurt, too, and having Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner isn’t a bad thing either.

6. The Fighter – Mark Wahlberg trained for two years to get ready for this part. I’m not betting against the man behind “Good Vibrations” when it comes to this kind of training and method acting.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Dog Bite Dog

The crime flick used to be ruled by the French during the new wave, and then had the crown stolen by American film-makers. Now, the Chinese own the crime thriller because of one main thing: balls out action. There are generally two things that can make a crime thriller with action elements into something special: great acting or tons of violence. In America we’ve perfected the former with The Departed and American Gangster being two great examples. In Hong Kong they’ve gone the other route, with lots of great action flicks following cops and criminals. Dog Bite Dog was on sale, too, and I’m a sucker for anything with a Dragon Dynasty brand on it.

Dog Bite Dog has a simple story. A cop (Sam Lee) wants to kill an assassin (Edison Chen) who’s pissed him off. He’s a crooked cop, too, and now it’s time for a can of some good old-fashioned Chinese whoop-ass to be opened up in this movie. The film is essentially a chase between Lee and Chen, as Chen gets caught and eventually escapes from police custody while Lee has to hunt him down. As it escalates, and the two engage in a chase until the brutal finale where they go one on one to settle it all.

It’s a pretty typical Hong Kong crime thriller in that it goes for more action sequences than character moments, with a couple flashbacks to bring us up to speed with the characters, but it’s pretty standard fare for the region. It’s a solid film, definitely enjoyable, but not the best representation of a genre from a country which has done better. A better film in the genre would be Invisible Target, but this isn’t an awful film. Just a mediocre ones.

Mildest recommendation possible.

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

Avatar: Special Edition – Eight more minutes of Smurf sex as Fox tries to rape your wallet (after raping your eyes) again.

Skip It – It sucked the first time, this time has eight more minutes of taking your money to see a $300 million version of Ferngully

The Last Exorcism – A reverend does an exorcism, Blair Witch style.

See It – If Paranormal Activity showed that you can take a standard demonic possession flick and make it interesting with a change in format, maybe it can happen again with an exorcism. Plus Rob Saucedo thought mostly positive of it.

Takers – Cops and robbers collide as a craptacular cast apes HEAT

Skip It – This has been pushed off for like over a year from theatrical release for a number of reasons, but mainly because it’s probably awful. You don’t hold a film out from theaters this long if there isn’t a “we’re giving it two weeks in theatres before pulling the plug” to avoid the DTV stigma with having such a high profile cast (Oscar nominee Matt Dillon needing to make his mortgage payment, Razzie nominee Paul Walker, Idris Elba, the guy who played Vader in the Star Wars prequels, convicted domestic abuser Chris Brown, Zoe Saldana and Grammy winner T.I).

Centurion – It’s The Warriors, but with ancient Romans. In Limited Release

See It – Everything looks good and it is a swords and sandals film, which usually gets my endorsement.

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.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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