Gripes about Hollywood in Three Movie Reviews

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2010 by zfeffer

In case you haven’t noticed, the first half of 2010 has been a staggering movie suck-fest. I felt that three movies in particular epitomized what’s been going wrong in Hollywood.

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton created this movie, and when talking about the classic story, he hits the nail right on the head here:

“Seeing other movie versions of it, I never felt an emotional connection to it. It was always a girl wandering around from one crazy character to another, and I never really felt any real emotional connection … the real attempt was to try and make Alice feel more like a story as opposed to a series of events.”

Disney’s original “Alice” remains one of my favorite animated movies ever, but if I had to voice one complaint about it, it was certainly that it lacked a plot–specifically, a plot from a formulaic action movie which climaxes with a massive battle. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I re-watch the original movie now, I can’t help but think that characters like the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee, and Tweedle Dum would serve a much better purpose if they would just cut the bullshit, arm themselves, and join the war to save the world.

(Yes, the “Tweedles” actually fight evil in this movie. I wish I were joking.)

The sad part is, I always get excited when they bring my favorite classic stories and characters to the big screen, and then I always end up angry when they carelessly chuck them into the Hollywood Plot Machine. Please stop!

Sherlock Holmes

Here’s another classic character that was fed into the plot machine, but I have different issues with this movie. I went to see it in the theater, only when it was over, I never really felt like I saw a film. Actually, I walked out under the impression I had just seen a shitty sitcom that was two and a half hours long. Probably because nearly all the dialogue in the entire movie sounded something like this:

Watson: [line that has plot implications]

Holmes: [witty repartee]!

Seriously, after each line, I was a bit thrown off because they forgot to put in the laugh track. The corny one-liners were so often, I felt like I paid for three hours of coming attractions.

Everyone can appreciate a well timed snappy comeback, and of course few actors deliver them better than Robert Downey Jr. But when you are writing entire screenplays where they become the only way characters interact, it’s time to realize where you belong: TV. Don’t venture away from the laugh track; it is your crutch. And please, use your own characters from now on.

Robin Hood

What could have been. The original script for this film was from the point of view of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is assigned to hunt down the nefarious outlaw, and antagonist, Robin Hood. Then the film’s producers realized they might actually have something original on their hands, quickly tore up the screenplay, and fed the legend into the Hollywood Plot Machine.

Whatever. The replacement story actually could have been worse, but you don’t go see Robin Hood to enjoy a tale about merry men. You go for the action!

I can’t help but try to see every movie that features medieval style battles; when it’s done right, I find it absolutely thrilling. So naturally, I became excited when I heard about this movie being directed by Ridley Scott, who has made excellent contributions to the “historical hack-n-slash” genre; namely, Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator.

However, if you’ve seen either of these “R” rated movies on network television, the violence is so drastically toned down that the battle scenes are practically unwatchable. The shots that showcased any blood and gore weren’t cleaned up, but removed entirely. What you were left with was a clusterfuck of chaos, a sequence so confusing that it was like trying to follow the ending of Mulholland Drive. The same fate was suffered by the PG-13 rated Robin Hood; trying desperately to cling to its rating, it produced sloppy, nonsensical battle scenes that left the experience totally unfulfilled.

PG-13 is a scourge of film making. It allows the movie studios to snatch up receipts of moviegoers under 17 years old, but often at the cost of the film’s integrity. You know how I knew that Die Hard 4 was going to suck? Because it was rated PG-13. John McClain can’t be John McClain when he talks as if he is in the company of his god damn grandmother.

Can we just eliminate the ban on kids going into R rated movies? What possible damage could this cause? If you’re old enough to get to a movie theater by yourself, you’re old enough to see a pair of exposed breasts. Scratch that–you’ve already seen them. Many, many times. Thanks to the internet, censorship has become pointless–it now only serves to detract from things adults can enjoy like movies and TV.

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How to Market “Badass” Tiger Woods

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by zfeffer

I am very disappointed in Tiger Woods, but not because of his long list of sexual conquests. Let’s face it, when we have a famous athlete that marries a trophy Swedish supermodel, it’s stupid to act surprised when it’s revealed that he was having more sex than Caligula. Anyway, I’m disappointed in Tiger because of the way he backed down. He issued apologies, claimed he had an addiction, promised to change, vowed to turn his life around, and all the bullshit you would hear from a cornered politician. Bill Clinton would have been proud, except that Tiger has about as much charisma as his father… who is currently dead.

Instead, in his statement to the press, I badly wanted Tiger to make it interesting: “This is who I am. I’m going to continue to dominate my sport and sleep around, just like my hero, Wilt Chamberlain. Hey, life is short. I went on such a sexual rampage that all my lost fans aren’t coming back anyway, unless I pussied out and claimed that I have a sex addiction. Actually, it’s possible I’m addicted. But I don’t feel that I need to treat it.”

What’s the real downside? I would imagine that being a role model is overrated anyway.

Ah, but the money! You may think he would lose a ton of money in endorsements and such. Well, I beg to differ. For starters, it would be a certainty that the golf tournaments would be a much hotter ticket; hell, they might even become interesting. The more people watch Tiger, the more he’s worth to the people sponsoring him. As for the endorsements, sure, he would lose a few. But I would argue that he could gain back even more.

Let’s explore the advertising possibilities that feature the Badass version of Tiger Woods:

  • Dos Equis Beer. At museums, he’s allowed to touch the art. At strip clubs, he’s also allowed to touch the art! He is… the most interesting golfer in the world.
  • AXE Body Spray. Um… no tag line necessary.
  • Fling.com. “If it were hard for me to get laid, Fling would be my website of choice.”
  • The Tiger Woods 2010 video game. We actually added something new this year! Brand new “off the golf course” game modes like “The Approach Shot” and “Back nine”! Now rated “M” for mature.
  • Playboy magazine. July 2010 feature: “Girls of Tiger”.
  • Trojan condoms. “I sleep around responsibly. You don’t recall an illegitimate child being part of my scandal, am I right?”
  • Viagra. “Because golf will be my only game that declines with age!”
  • The Church of Latter Day Saints. Hey, it’s not cheating if it’s part of your religion.
  • Red Bull and Vodka. The Gatorade of the night life: ultimate performance!
  • National Right to Life. Just kidding. On the flip side, this would be appropriate…
  • Pro Choice America.

I can’t decide what would be funnier: these ads actually running, or seeing the disclaimer appear at the bottom, “results not typical”.

I don’t care that you drink Fair Trade coffee, you’re still a Bad Person.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 25, 2010 by zfeffer

My bullshit detector goes nuts when I think about the concept of this ridiculous “Fair Trade Certified Coffee.” Obviously, this marketing scheme was built on the presumption that no one has their thoughts in order before buying their daily cup o’ joe. Well for me, I have a slight problem buying into this whole idea that this coffee, similarly priced to other coffee, will somehow pay several times the normal going rate to these poor, poor farmers. But not out of my pocket. Huh?

When fair trade coffee hit Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, they sold it as if, out of the good of their hearts, they just arbitrarily decided to pay more for their coffee. I was so appalled, I thought about quitting the stuff. I had no intention of giving my hard earned money to the poor, the unfortunate, and the needy that are the coffee growers. I wanted my money to go where I knew I could trust it: to the billion dollar corporations and the eight figure salaries of their executives.

Luckily, a little research revealed the economics at work here. If you read the ads, you’re told that this coffee is bought directly from the growers, cutting out the middlemen that are the evil worldwide coffee distributors. Right. Like the executives of Starbucks land on the plantation in a helicopter, have a friendly meet and greet with the coffee growers, and make it rain on them like Pacman Jones in a strip club.

Actually, the farmers themselves are part of a co-op that is simply another middleman (look it up). So the only distinction of fair trade coffee is that the middleman instead is an unregulated, potentially corrupt South American organization that is responsible for setting the prices of the stimulant, and distributing sales income to the growers. Sound familiar? It should. 30 years ago, we called it the Medellin Drug Cartel. Nice going, activist assholes.

ZaQ’s 2010 NFL Draft Grades

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by zfeffer

Everybody’s fresh off watching the popular “sporting event” without a winner… okay, it was a month ago… but since the fans need instant results, the draft grades column has become quite popular. I figured I’d try one of my own.

31 TEAMS: INCOMPLETE

My point being, the idea behind judging the success or failure of a team’s performance in a draft BEFORE ANY OF THESE PLAYERS PLAY A GAME is absurd. Let us take a moment to review this concept. A team of scouts, coaches, and the general manager spends thousands and thousands of hours evaluating these players throughout their entire NCAA football careers. Then, using these evaluations, they spend thousands of hours discussing how every single player would fit in their particular scheme. All of a sudden, some jackass that has watched a few college football games and read other people’s scouting reports writes a column judging their performance in the draft based on their subjective view of how they “drafted for value” or “filled their team needs”. Who the fuck are these people? Why do fans give a shit about what they write? If they slap your team across the face with the dreaded “D” grade, are you going to put any stock into this, or believe in the much more extensive work done by your team’s braintrust?

That being said, one braintrust (or lack thereof) in particular did an exceptionally shitty job this weekend; so shitty, in fact, that the following grade is more than fair…

ST. LOUIS RAMS: F

Maybe this is a bit unfair to the players the Rams drafted in rounds two through seven, but the top pick was so idiotic that there’s no way we look back in five years and give the Rams any other grade. I find it incredibly hard to believe that someone who has made a lifetime and career out of building football teams was behind this decision. There’s just no way. Let’s just take a quick look at the prospects of Sam Bradford as an NFL quarterback, using red flags to indicate an area of concern to anyone with knowledge of the league in the last decade and some common sense:

  • Here’s how a typical pass play occurred for the 2008 Oklahoma Sooners: Bradford takes a snap from shotgun, sits in the pocket for three to five seconds, finds a wide open receiver; success! What idiot saw these plays on film and thought, “this is what it takes to be an NFL quarterback?” You can NEVER count on getting even two seconds in the pocket in the NFL without getting harassed. The most important trait in a pro quarterback is the ability to complete passes when the pass rush closes in. In a related story, I would love to see three plays where Bradford gets early pressure and completes a pass. I’ve scoured YouTube to no success. Well, highlights aside, what happens when he does get pressured? Glad you asked…
  • Three starts in 2009, and in two, he suffered a long term injury in the first half. Remember, this is a guy who was hit so infrequently he hardly needed to play with a helmet in 2008, when he won the Heisman Trophy. I’m pretty sure there’s good a reason that, in my lifetime, no team has been stupid enough to take a QB in the first round that basically hasn’t played the year before. And this is a league with some dumb fucking general managers (see: Jones, Jerry).
  • I could have sworn that for the past few years, everyone agreed that you should never trust a quarterback’s success in a college spread offense. Given the ridiculous stats put up by QBs at Texas Tech, Hawaii, and (ahem) Oklahoma; it’s easy for a mediocre player to light the box score on fire. In fact, since the spread has become chic in NCAA ball, two QBs have graduated it to become the #1 overall pick: Alex Smith and Tim Couch. Ouch. And, in college, neither of those two had the offensive line, wide receivers, or defense that Bradford enjoyed. Not to mention his injury history.
  • The good qualities: He’s accurate, with a strong arm. Good thing, because he’ll need to be pinpoint on all the passes he’s going to have to throw away due to the massive pass rush he’s about to have shoved in his mouth with his crappy offensive line.

This concludes my exclusive, expert analysis on the 2010 draft. Or, if you just decided to skip down to the bottom, here’s the short version: Every team might have sucked, except the Rams, who definitely sucked.

Going Green? Green with Envy… of me!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 11, 2010 by zfeffer

Hey everyone! Go green! Turn off the lights. Shut off your computer. Recycle plastic bottles, recycle paper, recycle plastic bags, recycle condoms.

Shut the fuck up! I, for one, am totally sick of hearing this bullshit over and over, time after time. I have absolutely no problem with stuffing my garbage full of beer cans, light bulbs, propane tanks, and lit cigars. Not only do I always ask for plastic bags at the supermarket, I make sure that they’re all doubled up. I drive with my windows down while blasting my A/C, and this is after I leave my house with the heat at full blast and all the lights on. And I don’t want to hear any bullshit from anyone, OK?

Here’s the reality: If I were to stop doing these things, your lives wouldn’t change one fraction of a bit. Neither would the lives of your children. Nor your grandchildren. Okay, my roommates will be more comfortable in the winter with the heat up. Regardless, I’m going to continue ravaging this planet, and you’re going to keep living your lives, untouched, in exactly the same way. Well, except when you take time to give me shit for chucking a plastic bottle of Drain-O into the reservoir.

Well, perhaps you forgot, but we made a deal a long time ago. We agreed… well, I decreed… that as long as you environmentalist fanatics would continue to manipulate and guilt the other 300 million Americans into “going green”, I could continue my planet pillaging lifestyle–while observing that one person’s habits have absolutely no impact on the health of the environment whatsoever.

Do I feel guilty? Of course not. After all, I’m being totally upfront and honest about something that people might be appalled at. Well, shut up and stop whining, because I’m not the problem. I refuse to put any effort whatsoever into creating a better environment until the worst form of global rape gets put to a halt: Junk mail.

What pisses me off the most about junk mail is that 90 percent of this bullshit is fed to us by companies claiming they are “going green”. Apparently, if you run a company, all you need is one advertisement that says, “we love the environment” and all the people who pretend they give a crap will flock to your products like sheep. Hey, it removes the guilt, even though all it takes is an ounce of common sense to detect that you’re full of shit. Consider:

Hey, it’s nice that these trees managed to utter a “thanks” to all these people–well, they should, because many of them signed up online–but that was probably right before they were savagely cut down to use for the 563rd Citi credit card application that I received in the mail today. Good thing you sent that one, Citi, because even if I wanted to say yes for the first time after 562 straight NOs, I never would have signed up online. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I want to sign up for something, I prefer to write it out by hand, then have to mail it back and wait a week or more before I can begin to use it.

So, the next time you catch me doing my part to contribute to global warming and smog, instead of wasting your time lecturing me about the fine points of envirnomentalism, you should waste your time doing the same to the companies that are actually doing the significant damage. Besides, shouldn’t you be chained to a tree somewhere?