Archive for September 21, 2009

Is any caption really necessary --- or even appropriate?

Is any caption really necessary --- or even appropriate?

(Editor’s Note I  didn’t feel qualified to write a review of this film myself  since I walked out at about 30 minutes in, headed up the hallway in the multiplex, and caught “Whiteout” with Kate Beckinsale instead. Since, however, we —okay, me—here at TFG tend to cover all things horror, and since any movie written by Diablo Cody isa major cultural event in and of itself—why, just ask her!—I would feel remiss in not devoting a column to this film in some way, shape, or form. Given that we’re at the one-year anniversary of Ms. Cody’s infamous internet lash-out where she, in true Hollywood fashion,  conflated all criticism of her work with criticism of herself as a human being and that her latest film landed with a distinct thud at the box office last week despite the presence of Hollywood’s “it” girl of the moment, we thought it would be a novel idea to reach out to the former Minneapolitan in the spirit of hometown camaraderie and  invite her back to the place that made her famous (meaning, of course, the Web, not Minneapolis) in order to comment on her latest film and tell us why we should ignore the rest of the filmgoing public, as well as overwhelming critical consensus, and see “Jennifer’s Body.”  To our surprise and delight Ms. Cody accepted our invitation and is here, now, to add to her list of pseudo-cutting-edge writing by providing a review of her own movie.)

Hi dudes and dudettes, jock-itchers and jock-sniffers, Fruit of the Loomers and Frederick’s of Hollywood g-stringers, Right Guarders and Always-jammers, and welcome to my homeboy-even-though-he’s-white-and-so-am-I’s little corner of the electronic soon-to-be-super-toll road. I used to be a stripper, you know, and if there’s one thing I’ll never forget about the career I used in a most novel manner, even if I do say so myself, as a springboard out of the mid-fucking-west, it’s that you always want to leave them wanting more. Tease ’em and tease ’em and tease ’em some more, that’s the motto amongst the sweat-drenched, cut-throat bitchterhood that leaves the boys  with half a hardon and a fully empty wallet. It’s a lesson, dear huddled masses, that has served me well.

Case in point : my debut feature, “Juno.” Can I admit now I played you all P.T. Barnum-style? It was so easy. Make yourself and your story the focus of the attention rather than the script itself, and you can cover any and all deficiencies. All your characters can sound the same, you can ignore every gut-crunching reality that would normally follow on from the ultra-heavy situations you’re depicting, you can fool people into thinking that kitsch equals intelligence—as long as they all know going in that you used to be a stripper—a fact I may have mentioned already—and a blogger. The critics will fawn over your hare-brained dialogue as long as it’s one-half-step more clever than anything they’re thinking—or, more accurately, as long as it proclaims itself to be one-half-step more clever than anything they’re thinking, and Hollywood, more desperate to prove its “inclusiveness” than Kanye is to prove his maturity, will throw an Oscar your way. Steve (I call him Steve beause now I’m famous, too) Spielberg will act like one of the guys at the club I had just flashed half a nipple to and throw the green stuff at you to create your own show about anything you want. And every studio in town (well, in the only town that matters, I should say) will be pounding down the door of your just-purchased home to get you to work for them and hell, when your next project comes out, you’ll even get top billing above the director and the start. Why, just take a look at the poster for my new flick, “Jennifer’s Body”—

"Jennifer's Body" movie poster

"Jennifer's Body" movie poster

Yeah, Megan Fox—who I’m now very good friends with, by the way—we might even invite her to join the Fempire—is bigger than King Kong’s schlong right now. Amanda Seyfried—who I’m not as tight with but sure will be if her career takes off—is a solid up-and-comer. And what does this poster say above their names? Hell, above the title of the movie itself?

That’s right.  And I quote—“From the Academy Award-Winning Writer of ‘Juno.'” And as I might have also mentioned before, my name might be fake, but I like it, and it’s my fake name, not yours, and it’s inscribed on the bottom of an Academy Award and yours isn’t.  Got a problem with that? Talk to the hand, baby, talk to the hand.

All of which brings me—almost—to the movie itself. See, here’s a nifty little trick I learned. Ya gotta work fast, and by that I mean faster than Oprah gloms onto the next big self-help craze before it hits. When you’re a one-trick pony as opposed to a My Little Pony, people are going to fall out of love with you really fast if they wise up to the fact that they’ve been had, Brad. You have to crank those scripts out quicker than Tony Romo switches celebrity squeezes, or else they might wise up to the fact that all you’re doing is stringing together self-aware and easily-memorable catch-phrases around the a plot thinner than Karen Carpenter before she checked the fuck out.

See what I did just there? It’s called safely shocking irreverence. Take an event long enough ago to have lost its immediate impact, bring it up in a manner that references nothing more than its prurient pop-culture quasi-value, and use it as a quick, off-the-cuff metaphor. Try it sometime, it’s pretty fun, and might even lead to a lucrative writing deal for you if you have an easily-marketable personal history to back it up. Free advice there, folks.

So anyway, fragile little impressionable audience, I got my show done pronto and got my next movie out PDQ, too (I can safely use outdated colloquialisms now in the knowledge that the very act of me saying them will be enough to convince some people, at least, that they’re cool again).  I’m literally everywhere these days. And maybe now’s the time to plan my next move.

Overexposure, they call it, and it can be the kiss of death—just ask Britney Spears. Give the girl credit, though, she lays low for a few months, and by the time she’s back on track, Jack, the public is slavering for her all over again. And if incognito is the way to be-to, then that’s what I’ll do next. Get the punters, as they say across the pond, good and hungry for their next Diablo-fix before giving it to ’em. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned since the first weekend BO results for “Jennifer’s Body” hit, it’s that you peeps out there don’t appreciate your girl enough. I’m pissing pure genius  at you, the unwashed masses, and you can’t even show and pay eight lousy bucks  for the golden  shower. Pearls before swine and all that.

Don’t you get it? There’s nothing original in “Jennifer’s Body,” but that straight-up doesn’t matter. It’s loaded with snappy dialogue that, sure, is no more realistic than you’d find in an Ed Wood script (and I throw in a buttload of product placement references cleverly disguised as quick-witted banter), but it’s self-aware of its own ludicrousness. I’m subverting what I do even as I do it through the power of the pussy! You see, this is hopelessly annoying self-conscious drivel written by a WOMAN and delivered by WOMEN. The director of this gorefest, Karyn Kusama,  is FEMALE. The principal characters are FEMALE. The fact I employ every boring-ass horror cliche isn’t indicative of laziness or lack of imagination, no sir/madam—I am LIBERATING these tired old chestnuts and SUBVERTING them by FEMINIZING them.  This isn’t a tired rehash of conventional shit, it’s a piece of TRANSGRESSIVE filmmaking. The shoe is on the other foot now, fellas, and we ladies are grinding our boot-heels down!

Sisters, this one’s for you. Not me. You. This is about the power of the collective “we” of the female gender. This, in the end, is my gift to my fellow women. And to think so few of you accepted it—but I digress, I guess, Jess.

I’ll try not to despair too much. I’m still pretty damn wonderful, even if I do say so myself. And if it all goes to pot, hey, there’s still my “Entertainment Weekly” column. How many screenwriters have a fallback option that solid? Oh yeah, not a one. It’s a pretty exclusive club consisting of me, and me, and—oh yeah—me.

Anyway, I’ve done what I can. It’s out there. I’d say this movie is absolutely right now, but I think it’s more next week, Or the week after. One half-step ahead. Yes, everybody sounds just like people from “Juno,” only stuck in a horror flick. But I know what I’m doing. Hell, one of the main chicks is named Needy! Doesn’t that prove to you that I know what I’m doing? That this is all on purpose? That I could write actual, differentiated characters if I wanted to, but that I deliberately choose not to do so? I understand what I’m doing, even if you don’t. I won’t dumb this shit down. I’m up here—I’ve thrown you a rope—climb your ass up here and meet me. Or don’t. It’s your choice. But I think I’ve earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to your blind trust in all I say and do. After all, as I may have mentioned before, I used to be a stripper, but now my fake name that I chose and I like even if you don’t is now inscribed on the bottom of an Academy Award. And yours isn’t. My boss made “E.T.” Yours made his kids oatmeal for breakfast.

And that’s a fact, homeskillet.