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The Last Ash on the Left
1.9.2003 by Ash, every Thursday.

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

©? «/?ee, my New Year’s resolution to actually stick to my column commitment is off to a good start. Unfortunately, my vow to stop spending productive man hours swearing at Dr. Phil on CTV has not met with much success. I’m convinced the man is not actually a doctor, but that he’s just swindled the broadcasting world into believing he knows what’s best, just because he talks in a soothing, down-home Colonel Sanders lilt. Plus, his smile is way to friendly. He seems to be trying desperately to act like everybody’s favorite uncle, but if TV movies have taught me anything, it’s that everybody’s favorite uncle likes to drink bourbon and diddle little kids. So, I’ve taken him to task, in my own living room. However, the battle, exacerbated by the fact that I lost my remote and can’t leave channel 11 without getting up, is not going well. He’s not responding to my obscenity-laved rants, though my neighbors are, and my voice is going hoarse. Nevertheless, I will carry on the good fight, and leave you folks back home news of how it progresses.

Sunday, December 29

The Ninth Configuration
Stacy Keach, like Martin Mull, is a man who should always wear a moustache. Without it, he looks quite naked. As Keach is 45 years old and fat, this is an unpleasant mental image, and should be avoided at all costs. To add insult to injury, this film also features a rather lengthy performance by Richard Lynch, an unpleasantly pockmarked fellow who, like Michael Berryman, Juliette Lewis, and the guy who played Jaws in Moonraker, makes his living off of being ugly. A feast for the eyes, this film is not. The movie takes place at an asylum for war vets, which for some reason is set in a slightly better lit version of Dracula’s castle. Keach plays the head of the institution, attempting to counsel the vets through their traumatic experiences, like the time Robert Loggia was in Revenge of the Pink Panther, or Jason Miller’s performance in Vampire. However, Keach himself may be too irreparably damaged from appearing alongside both David and Keith Carradine in The Long Riders to treat his patients without being sucked into their abyss of insanity.

All The President’s Men
My enjoyment of this film was somewhat hampered by the resemblance of its title to a Village People song. I’m not sure what song exactly, but it has the same campy, vaguely homoerotic feel of ‘In The Navy’ or ‘Macho Man’. I don’t want to imply that there’s anything wrong with that sort of lifestyle, aside from John Waters movies, but I kept having flashes of Dustin Hoffman greased up and dressed like a biker, which was interfering with my flashes of Robert Redford naked in a mudbath, peeling a banana.

Monday, December 30

Kramer Vs Kramer
Alright, so maybe I didn’t mind the biker flashes all that much.

Tuesday, December 31

The Wrong Man
This Hitchcock film tells the true story of a man falsely accused of holding up an insurance company. And, as is the case with most true stories, it isn’t particularly interesting. Even Henry Fonda looks bored throughout the whole thing, and he’s getting paid to be there. Real life, although un-needing of suspension of disbelief, generally requires at least one car chase or serial killer cat-and-mouse game to spice things up. That, actually, is my main complaint with Survivor. While I appreciate all the intrigues and interpersonal dynamics that allegedly make the show so interesting, without a megalomaniacal madman threatening to blow up the island, or at least one hero cop with a bad attitude, I don’t find the show worth watching. In my version of the program, which I think you’ll find much more interesting, instead of a $1 million cash prize, you play for the $10 million in gold bullion. And, instead of Jeff Probst leading immunity challenges, he individually transforms the contestants into various, horribly mutated man-beasts, which proceed to tear about the island, mauling the camera crew and each other, until whoever doesn’t bleed to death from massive abdominal wounds gets to walk off with the cash.

Wednesday, January 1

Jacob’s Ladder
You know what the world needs? More movies about Vietnam. Also, more sitcoms where people talk to the audience, and direct-to-video films starring rappers playing mobsters. While we’re at it, why don’t we just replace televised news with Popstars rip-offs, and elect Adam Sandler president, because we just don’t see enough of that whiny little prick. Sure this is a Vietnam movie with a twist, in that it stars Tim Robbins, a man as likely to be drafted as Camryn Manheim, but it still fulfills all the necessary clichés, like a black guy chewing on a cigar, extensive marijuana use, and overuse of the word ‘man’ as punctuation.

Thursday, January 2

About Schmidt
Although this movie isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s good to see a major Hollywood actor finally playing a realistic character, namely an aging, balding, unattractive man. Oh, wait a second. No, it isn’t. It’s not good to see that at all. I don’t like to see unattractive people. That’s why I go to the movies. There’s a reason why they don’t let old people on TV, aside from the fact that most of them are either crippled or busy watching Charlton Heston movies. Old people are boring and ugly, and I don’t want to pay ten dollars to spend two hours staring at them. This is why nobody went to see The Crew. TV and film are perfectly fine without unattractive people of any kind, including weighty women, like Nicholson’s co-star Kathy Bates. If I wanted to see fat girls, I’d go down to Burger King and home in on whoever was complaining loudest about the unattainable standard of beauty found in fashion magazines in between mouthfuls of Whopper. Instead, I think I’ll stick with Baywatch reruns and Maxim.

Friday, January 3

If the idea of Nicholas Cage nude on a bed, masturbating furiously to fantasies of Meryl Streep turns you on, then this movie is for you. Also, so is Thorazine and deep breathing exercises, because you have problems. It’s not like this is an isolated incident. Nicholas Cage does a lot of masturbating in this film, apparently having realized that being possessed of a face composed entirely of sharp edges that could open envelopes will prevent him from ever having sex. Adaptation is the latest film from the team that brought you Being John Malcovitch, director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman, despite having seen Fight Club at least eight too many times, has turned in a very smart script, and Jonze has brought it to the screen with his typically forcibly eccentric style. The result is a film that critics will love, and every first year film student will put on their top 5 ‘Post-Modern Films’ list after watching Hi Fidelity.

Saturday, January 4

The Hound of the Baskervilles
One of the first Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee Hammer Studios films to venture outside the realm of horror, and the first one to venture outside my realm of interest. Quite frankly, a Hammer film without Dracula is like an X-Files episodes without Mulder, or one of those fancy brandy-filled chocolates: intriguing, yet ultimately revolting. No sooner have you pierced the delicious dark chocolate outer coating then you encounter a nauseating, Robert Patrick filling. You’ve been sucked in to watching the whole proverbial chocolate episode, and it’s too late to back out now and put the chocolate back in the box. Plus, I kept expecting Christopher Lee to eat Watson, or to see Cushing’s Sherlock Holmes gathering clues by reconstructing murder victims with sewing thread and metal bolts.

Sunday, January 5

Simple-minded little picture that plays like James Bond for retarded people. Gone are the double-entendres and sophisticated quips of Connery, Moore, and Brosnan, replaced by meat-headed Vin Diesel barreling through the film with all the style and charm of a beer-soaked date rapist at a prom after-party. The movie has Diesel as reluctant secret agent XXX, so dubbed because his name is Xander, and as he is childish enough to be perpetually welcoming people to “the Xander Zone”, he had to be given a nickname every thirteen year-old on the planet would think is “radical”. Anyway, XXX falls under the tutelage of Samuel L. Jackson, whom I would love to hear whisper just once in a film, for the sake of my ear-drums and his dignity. Quickly, XXX is sent out on his first assignment. Naturally, as he is a novice agent, this assignment involves saving the world from Russians, this time in the guise of the terrorist group Anarchy 99, led by the menacing Yorgi. I would mention that it seems strange to have an anarchist group with a leader and a tightly structured power hierarchy, but the irony would be lost on the film’s target audience, as irony rarely involves things blowing up. Normally, had my libido not been erased years ago by after-school reruns of the original Star Trek, I would note that the only worthwhile thing about this movie is Asia Argento, the nubile daughter of Italian horror legend Dario Argento. However, I choose to point out the fact that although she has all the trappings of a sex symbol, she has teeth like a tartarous rodent, coming off less like sexy Euro Trash and more like an inbred Piney.

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