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I Dismember 2002
12.30.2002 by Ash, every Thursday.

  Can't get enought Ash? You should be reading Pulp!

Alright, so maybe I haven’t written a column in a while. So what? Does that give you the right to judge me? Does that make you a better person? I haven’t done a lot of things in a while, like leave the house, pay rent, or turn off the endless loop of Babylon 5 episodes playing on my DVD player, and quite frankly, none of that concerns you. All that matters is that I’m back in the proverbial saddle, senses dulled by Doritos and end-of-year Much Music retrospectives, ready to write again. And you should thank me for taking time out of my busy schedule of dozing uneasily on the couch to share a little bit of my life with you, the Tangmonkey reader. Anyway, since it’s the end of the year, it’s about time for a look back at the best films I’ve seen in 2002. Unfortunately, ever since I had to huff Windex to try and erase flashbacks from the time I accidentally saw part of an episode of Sex and the City, my memory hasn’t been so hot, so instead I’ve compiled a ‘best of last week list’. Equally unfortunately, an unpleasant incident involving a marathon of Hulk Hogan films has left me unable to make qualitative judgements pf any sort, so I’ve just listed the films I’ve seen in the last week, and left the ratings up to you, the reader. It’s the least you can do to thank me.

Saturday, December 14

Last Tango In Paris
Your enjoyment of this film depends solely upon whether or not you can stomach watching Marlon Brando anally penetrate Maria Schneider with the romantic aid of a stick of butter. Judging from Brando nowadays, he was probably more interested in the butter than Schneider, but that’s irrelevant. What’s important is that this scene is the crux of the movie, and it’s beyond grotesque. Even I had grew queasy watching it, and I routinely eat bowls of Kraft Dinner while watching German pornography. The image of that pasty, saggy man grunting through locks of his own wispy, thinning hair as he thrusts into a hairy and reluctant European woman is enough to simultaneously put you off both sex and movies for a good decade.

Sunday, December 15

Thankfully, this Steven Soderbergh remake of Tarkovsky’s 1972 sci-fi epic Solarys is only about half as long as the original film. Unfortunately, it’s exactly twice as boring, equaling out to a movie-to-movie crap ratio of 1:1. As evidenced in Out of Sight and The Limey, Soderbergh is a master of elliptical editing, which compresses time and gets to the point quickly, something that was sorely lacking in the Russian original. But, since the essential point of the film is that it’s really dull, this is somewhat hurrying to the centre of a Tootsie Pop only to discover that it’s full of dung. Nevertheless, the film has its moments. For the women, said moments are comprised entirely of two scenes featuring George Clooney’s bare ass, matched cheek for cheek with Natascha McElhone’s similarly nude body, which I suppose is some sort of concession for the men in the crowd. It doesn’t entirely satisfy, however, for although McElhone is fairly attractive, she is possessed of extraordinarily large eyes, which alternate between making one feel like staring into the gaze of a large, dewy-eyed doe, and being ogled by a giant squid.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Sadly enough, this is not a joke. I actually watched this entire movie. Not because I had to, and certainly not because I wanted to, but, strangely enough, because I felt it my duty, like I owed it to the world to have it out with this picture. If I didn’t watch it, odds are someone else would, and there would be no going back for that poor sod. Scarred for life, he would subject to endless ridicule from male colleagues and acquaintances, forever questioning his sexuality and masculinity, perpetually repeating the refrain “I just find Sandra Bullock cute” until he’s reduced to holing himself up in an isolated mountain cabin, growing a foot-long beard and sending letter bombs to government employees. Thankfully, I have a hefty emotional callous, formed from long years of sporadic Beverly Hills 90210 addictions, that protects me from such a fate. Using this ability to watch even the shrillest annoyances masquerading as female bonding pictures, I was able to watch the entire film unscathed, and am completely capable of leading a normal life, sending my letter bombs from the comfort of my home, free from excessive facial hair and a Montana cabin.

Monday, December 16

I, Confess
Minor Hitchcock film that is notable only because it was filmed in Quebec City. This is worth remarking on only because nobody ever goes to Quebec city unless they’ve got family there or need to stop for cigarettes on the way to Halifax. The plot concerns a priest who hears confession from a murderer, only to be accused of the same crime himself. An intriguing premise, no doubt, but one that is undone by an ending torn straight out of Murder She Wrote, only without the haggish Angela Lansbury leering over the proceedings like the witch from Pumpkinhead.

Bloody Mama
Calmingly boring Roger Corman picture that features an early performance by Robert DeNiro, and what I assume to be a late performance by Shelly Winters. It’s hard to tell, because Shelly Winters has always looked fat, old, and drunk, even in her late teens. She was actually only 35 when she did this movie, playing the aged matriarch of the Barker clan of thieves and murders in the 1930s, and 13 months when she starred as Lolita’s mom in the Stanley Kubrik film.

Space Cowboys
OK, someone needs to explain to me how anyone could possibly find the lenghty tale of four old people going to space exciting. Old people, in general, are not exciting. They can occasionally be funny, like when they fall and break their hip or Adam Sandler yells at them, but words like “osteoperosis” and “septugenarian” rarely get the pulse pounding, unless you’re really weird, in which case you need to lie down with a cold compress on your forehead and count to ten. I myself have had similar episodes in which an unusual stimulus created an incongruous response. Aside from the usual mild arousal I get from watching Huggies commercials, I often become nauseous watching Charmed, confused and disoriented during The Other Half, and one time became violently angry while watching Arsenio Hall talk about TiVo on Leno. I find immediate rest helps to alleviate the stronger symptoms, followed by a gradual program of group therapy, individual psychiatric care, and heavy self-medication via cough syrup and Vanilla Coke.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
It’s hard to believe, but this movie actually got longer since the last time I saw it. It used to clock it at just under three days, but this new extended version took up most of my week. I wouldn’t have minded so much had the longer version include more actual footage, but most of the added length comes from 20 extra minutes of credits, in the form of a complete listing of every charter member of the official Lord of the Rings fan club. While this may bring joy into the shriveled heart of every stunted, cloak wearing druid in suburbia, I think it’s important to note that there is an intern at a DVD production house somewhere who burns with hatred for every name he had to add in the credits, and now he knows where to find them in the phone book.

Tuesday, December 17

The Woman in the Dunes
Classic Japanese thriller about an etymologist held captive by a woman in between two giant sand dunes. It’s just about as gripping as it sounds, as it follows the classic Japanese thriller formula of steadily lulling viewers to sleep and hoping they have bad dreams. The film is made passable by the close resemblance of the lead actor to Jackie Chan, although since he displays none of Chan’s shockingly violent sense of humor, battering practically no one into unconsciousness with a ladder or pinball machine, the movie never achieves the heights of greatness it aspires to.

Star Trek: Nemesis
I fear, sadly enough, that my doomed love affair with the Star Trek series is coming to a tragic end. As exciting as this new entry in the franchise is, what with plenty of action and endless Nosferatu references, it’s crammed with enough embarrassing in-jokes to provide hundreds of hours of nasal giggling from bespectacled high school students and, consequently, a year’s worth of gang beatings by Laker’s fans in ball caps and Hilfiger sweatshirts. While I should be sympathetic, as I proudly understand each and every reference, I’m of the opinion that if you feel the urge to cheer every time Kate Mulgrew from Voyager shows up on screen, you deserve whatever beating you get.

Wednesday, December 18

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The latest installment in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a lengthy, FX-laden film that tries desperately to give the impression of violent, epic grandeur to hide the fact that it’s an inherently pansy story about midgets and elves fighting D&D villains. Nevertheless, there are some tense moments, like when Aragorn almost runs out of hit points, or when Gandalf loses his twenty sided die and is unable to cast his level 7 fire spell.

Killing Zoe
Somewhat nondescript heist tale from Tarantino contemporary Roger Avary, who co-wrote Pulp Fiction, along with making the star-studded Will Wheton vehicle Mr. Stitch. Killing Zoe follows the day to day exploits of Eric Stoltz, who, having thoroughly confused himself with Eric Roberts, spends much of his time doing drugs, sleeping with hookers, and engaging in petty crime. Essentially, it’s all the violence, drug use, and profanity of a Tarantino movie, without the budget.

Thursday, December 19

Ride with the Devil
One would imagine, give the popular vices associated with Satan since his incorporation into the Christian mythos, that a ride with the Devil would be a bit more interesting than two hours of plodding Civil War drama. At the very least, it wouldn’t involve Jewel, unless she has recently made a career shift from saccharine elevator music to backwards-talking profane shrieking and wanton harlotry. While I appreciate all the plot depth and character development being portrayed on-screen, I find that any film with ‘Devil’ in the title that does not feature at least one excrementaly-defiled church or bloody crucifix is a waste of my time.

Friday, December 20

The Trouble With Harry
The trouble with Harry, you see, is that he’s dead. The trouble with this movie, however, is mainly that it’s not Weekend at Bernie’s. Not that I particularly liked Weekend At Bernie’s. On the contrary, I rather despise anything involving a Brat Pack member, especially one as irritatingly plain as Andrew McCarthy. That is, however, beside the point. The point is that if you’re going to base a movie around a dead person, the corpse should be used in the interests of broad, physical comedy. There should be plenty of falling down, jokes about bodily functions and smells, and the corpse should always be taken to a dance club. Alfred Hitchcock, however, chooses to mire this particular film with snappy repartee, strong performances, and amusing plot twists. At no point is the corpse used in a misguided effort to lay a busty teenage beach bunny, and therein lies the film’s essential flaw.

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