16 Nov

I have a confession to make.

 

This is hard.

 

Here goes -

Y’know, maybe I’ll just keep this one to myself. It doesn’t make me look too good.

No. I can do this.

Alright. Ready for this? You should be, because it’s coming. Coming at you.

 

Like a freight train.

 

Maybe not a freight train. Maybe it’s more like a regular train. Or a car. Or a Radio Flyer on a gentle slope.

So maybe I exaggerated. Sue me.

It’s not like you should be surprised – we live in a world where exaggeration is key. Without it, everything sucks. Think about it. What was the last story you told?

 

Mhm. Interesting.

 

And did that bowl of soup really fly into the air? Was it actually scalding hot? Did the waiter really slap you? 

Or is it possible that you knew no one would want to hear about the time some clumsy server sloshed a bit of lukewarm minestrone onto your shirt?

That’s what I thought.

So why, then, did you exaggerate? Why even tell any version of that story in the first place?

It’s because people love a good story. And, almost as much, people love to tell a good story. Everyone secretly wants to be the guy(or girl) that captivates his (or her) audience while they recount a tale of heartbreak, woe, and soup. And, shameless as we are, we will do just about anything to be that person. And we know that we have to make it good, because no one is going to stop to listen to a mediocre story.

Filmmakers are among the worst offenders. I think most of us tend to scoff in amusement whenever the words “based on a true story” appear onscreen. Because honestly, there comes a point where anything could be based on a true story if you stretch  it enough.

Tron? Oh yeah, that’s based on a young man’s experience as an American soldier entering Vietnam for the first time.

Tommy Boy? It was inspired by the life and achievements of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

I may be exaggerating a bit(see?), but the point is this: filmmakers are almost certainly going to take an insane amount of creative license with any “true story” they can get their hands on. Just look at A Beautiful Mind.

Because sometimes(Usually. Almost always, actually.), the truth just isn’t good enough.

 

Hm?

My confession?

I think I’ve rambled enough.

Next time.

 

Almost definitely next time.

 

Maybe.

 

The truth about Tyler Perry

11 Nov

“Hellur there.”

It was barely audible over the whirring projector – for a moment, he thought he’d imagined it. But the cold sweat creeping down the nape of his neck said otherwise. He knew that voice.

“What are you doing here?” Hunched over, he spoke into the crook of his arm, as if hoping that his words would be lost in the folds of his wool blazer. It was so heavy, so hot. He’d paid far too much for it.

“You know why I’m here, Tyler.” The voice, he noticed, was not coming from the same corner of the room as before. It was louder now, floating out of the impenetrable dark.

He remained silent, focusing on the damp heat his heavy breath had infused in the wool. It was still clinging resiliently to the fabric, despite the fact that he had (he was sure) not drawn a breath in the last sixty seconds. The projector whirred on, refusing to let him have just a moment’s silence.

He knew that he had run out of time, that it would not wait patiently for him to respond. Slowly, he raised his head.

A scene flickered on the wall in front of him. Children playing, men and women laughing under a gazebo. Food was being passed around. A picnic, he thought. So wonderful and full of memories.

A shadow crossed the merry faces on the wall. They had seen something. He wanted to warn them, wanted to tell them to run, but it was too late. It was upon them, all bulk and terror. Not quite man, not quite woman. Not quite human.

He watched in captivated horror as pies were smashed, fruit salads were overturned, and people were sat on.

“Admire your handiwork, Tyler. You’ve done it again.”

It was coming from right beside him. He could feel its heart beating irregularly as it pressed against his back. “No time to rest,” it rasped. “We have work to do.”

Every muscle in his body tensed to conceal the violent convulsions threatening to overtake him. “But -” he stammered, gesturing weakly at the wall. “This isn’t even out yet.”

An unearthly giggle erupted in his ear. “We have work to do.” It repeated.

“No,” he shook his head. “No, I – ” he closed his eyes. “I can’t.”

Silence.

Then, as he eased one eyelid open, his heart jumped into his mouth. It was towering before him – the massive shape blotting out the light from the projector. He could just barely make out the iron curls place clumsily on the top of its head, the dead eyes magnified by thick lenses. He wanted to flee, but his legs were no longer working. The real thing was a thousand times more terrifying than the monster wreaking havoc in the scene on the wall.

“What’s the matter, Tyler?” It teased. “Gone soft?” His mouth was clamped shut so tightly that his jaw began to ache as its face inched towards his. “What about the money, Tyler? What about the fame?”

“They’ve had enough!” He was shaking, from anger or fear he didn’t know. “Can’t you see they’ve had enough?”

A grisly smile played across its lips as it shook its massive head. “Not enough,” it said softly. “Never enough.”

“I can’t do this anymore.” He could feel tears streaking down his face in fits and starts as they fought against the beads of sweat already clinging there.

“You have to.”

“I – just leave me alone. Please.”

The end of his sentence was drowned out by another round of demonic laughter – it lashed at him like a pack of rabid dogs.

“Please!”

“You don’t understand, Tyler.” It spoke even as the laughter continued. “Or perhaps you do.”

Something evil was rising in his chest, vulgar and hellbent on clawing its way out. He was helpless as it broke into his mind and nested there – he could not ignore it.

The laughter was growing ever louder, so close that it seemed, for a moment, to be coming from him.

“Ah,” it said. “You understand.” It gazed deep into his eyes, and he could not look away. He was overwhelmed by a sudden urge to vomit, but he was empty. And as its gaze bored deep into his mind, something broke.

He was tired.

Nothing felt like enough anymore. There was nothing for him to hold onto, no reason to fight back.

He slumped back into his chair, numb to the world around him. He was no longer aware of the film playing out before him, or of the room, suddenly empty and dark once again.

He was alone.

An idea had sparked in his mind, and it grew feverishly as he snatched a pencil and paper from the table beside him and began to write. It was as if he couldn’t control his own hand – the loosely scrawled letters appearing on the page before him could have come from a child.

He stayed there long after the projector’s whirring ceased and the room went completely dark, writing. When at last he had finished, his hand moved to the top of the first page and etched four words in block letters:

MADEA GOES TO JAIL

He sat back and smiled absently. As he admired his work, there was a moment where he swore there was a whisper in his ear. He frowned.

Probably nothing.

He was left with the words already on his lips. And he felt as though he were only repeating them as he spoke.

“This one will be good.”

An intervention letter to Tyler Perry

10 Nov

Dear Tyler,

Stop it.

-Everyone

I’m writing about circles again

9 Nov

People suck.

That’s what Looper teaches us. Director Rian Johnson gets it – he understands people in a way that most can’t, or don’t want to. There is no hero in this movie, only a man so selfish that he doesn’t even care about his own self from the future. In fact, he’s trying to kill his older self.

These are the types that populate Looper. These are not good people.

Mankind has an amazing ability, Johnson tells us, to take the most wonderful things and ruin them. Time travel is illegal in Looper, because the government doesn’t trust anyone with it. And perhaps they’re right not to – the only thing it’s used for is disposing of the mob’s enemies.

That’s what it’s used for. The culmination of decades of work and endless theorizing ends up as the futuristic equivalent of a quarry or a swamp. In Looper, nothing is sacred.

This is a world where anything can and will be exploited for personal gain, where friendships are tossed aside like spent cigarettes, and where a human life means absolutely nothing. And there’s this huge, vicious circle. Everyone starts out a victim, and eventually becomes part of the problem. How could you not, growing up in a world like that?

And just like time travel, the circle keeps repeating. Unless you change it.

Joe doesn’t realize that until the very end. He’s responsible for the first truly selfless act in the whole movie. If you’ve seen Looper, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, I won’t spoil it for you here. But Joe’s actions leave you with this: you have to initiate change if you want it to happen. Maybe you’re a victim, and maybe it’s someone else’s fault that the world around you is the way it is. But that changes nothing. The world is the way it is regardless, and it will corrupt you if you let it. But if you initiate change, there’s a chance that something good will begin to grow.

And that’s really what Looper is teaching us, in the end.

People suck. But they don’t have to.

Biodome: An American classic(for Vivian and Kameron)

9 Nov

I get it now.

I understand Biodome. It takes more than one viewing to really appreciate it; it’s an acquired taste. I had to force myself to sit down and watch it again, sure, but I’m so glad I did. Because Biodome isn’t just some stupid buddy movie.

It’s a warning.

It was here before The Day After Tomorrow and it was here before An Inconvenient Truth. Biodome is showing us a what could happen if we as a society don’t get our act together. Our indulgent behaviors take a toll on the environment, and slowly, it’s dying.
But it’s not too late, not yet. Just as Stephen Baldwin and Pauly Shore saved the Biodome, humans can still save the Earth. We can still undo some of the damage if we just put aside our differences and work together. That’s what Biodome is trying to tell us.

I used to hate Biodome. But I know, better than anyone, that sometimes the best movies are the ones that take the longest to appreciate. So I gave it a second chance. And I found something wonderful. I found an indictment of modern society’s hedonistic ways. I found a story of redemption.

I found a masterpiece.

.
.
.
.
.
.
That was a lie.
Did you believe it? Do you feel like you’ve wasted valuable time reading this? I hope you do, because that’s how I felt after Biodome. Here’s the truth: It’s still terrible, and now I might have irreparable brain damage from watching it twice.

You guys suck.

Pauly Shore is in my nightmares

6 Nov

Dear Brain,

Sorry for watching Biodome today.

Get well soon.

Love,
Chris

If life went backwards I’d have already blown your mind five minutes from now

4 Nov

Have you seen Memento? No?

Seriously?

Go watch it.
Right now.

I’ll wait.

Good, right?

Chances are you didn’t take 113 minutes out of your day just now to watch the movie (shame on you). Maybe you’ve already seen it. Or, far more likely, you tried to watch it once and stopped because it gave you a headache.

I’m not calling you stupid. I’m not saying you lack the mental capacity to understand this movie. But seriously, Memento is confusing. Because it’s backwards.
Backwards.

Think about that for a second.

Sounds kind of dumb, doesn’t it? If you know the ending, what’s the point?

The point is that now you’re as close as possible to sharing the main character’s perspective.

See, Leonard has short term memory loss. He experiences the world in context-free fragments. And thanks to genius of Christopher Nolan (and his brother Jonathan, whose excellent short story is the basis for the movie), so do we. I won’t explain exactly how it works here, for brevity’s sake.

But it does work, and it works well. The result is that at first you know about as much as Leonard does, and so you understand his frustration. But then you start to see the big picture, in a way that he can’t. You know which of his actions are mistakes. You know who’s stabbing him in the back. And by the end/beginning, the gravity of where Leonard is headed is clear. Not just because you know the ending. You’ve gotten a glimpse at his entire existence. And you see how truly pathetic it is. You can’t help but feel sorry for a man who doesn’t even realize that his life is going in circles.

The final realization you’ll have is that, of course, there’s more to the movie than just the surface level story. The director is saying something (aren’t they always?). We go in circles, too. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We make the same mistakes again and again and again, because we’re creatures of habit. The people around us can see it, but we’re incapable of looking at the big picture.

Most of us don’t have short term memory loss. But we do have a remarkable knack for forgetting (or maybe just ignoring) our past. Maybe it’s even intentional. After all, going in circles is easy. Would we even know what to do with ourselves otherwise?

But maybe it’s time to get out of the rut. Maybe it’s time to move forwards.
After all, you know what they say: if you’re not moving forwards, you’re just moving backwards.

See what I did there? Did you see it?

…Sorry.

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