January 8, 2009 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | January 8, 2009 |


With 2008 fading rapidly in our rear-view, we’re cleaning out the Boozehound’s 2008 file cabinet with a few remaining items; also, we can extrapolate some New Year’s resolutions for some of our more or less favorite people. We already covered Oscar “shoulds” and “wills” in the Drunken Oscar Baiting column — now with 20 percent more crossed-out fuckups! - which takes care of the Boozehound Official Favorites and Bests. And may I point out that no one jumped on the Oscar-bation joke? What, too obvious? In any event, here are the Boozehound’s parting thoughts on 2008.

Note that all celebrity resolutions are guaranteed to be 100 percent true, since they were telepathically beamed into my head from Uranus. It clenched up while you were Oscarbating.

Future Pajiba Underappreciated Gem: Now that I’ve tested everyone’s patience for weeks and weeks gushing over Tell No One and The Wackness, I humbly submit for your consideration Transsiberian, a nifty little thriller starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Ben Kingsley which probably would be 2008’s Best Movie to Gross Less Than $3M if not for The Wackness. Harrelson and Mortimer play American missionaries traveling by train from Beijing to Moscow. When they get tangled up in the murder of another traveler, they must deal with a pair of Russian detectives, including Kingsley, whose motives aren’t completely clear. Transsiberian alternates moody introspection with tense action, and the acting is pretty good all around, especially Mortimer.

Amy Winehouse Resolves: Less time scarring people’s souls on topless beaches, more time crouching on the ramparts of Gothic churches.

Sarah Palin Resolves: To stop confusing “domestic drilling” (good) with “daughter turned into cockstocking in the family room” (bad).

Will Smith Resolves: To “stretch” for his “craft” by working with a genuine “auteur,” starting with Smith’s portrayal of Malcolm X in Steven Soderbergh’s new biopic reboot. (Also: Demand a re-write to make it a comedy about the Black Panthers leader’s krizz-azy shenanigans with his white neighbors, played by Frank Caliendo and Rachel Dratch, punctuated frequently with Smith’s new catch-phrase “throw a tigga-jigga on it.”)

Worst Film: I’m looking for something a little different than the Golden Pajibas; shitty films are a dime a dozen, but then there are shitty films with an evil, dishonest core and an intent to cause actual harm. The rare combination of inept filmmaking, overtly dishonest positioning, and disastrously misguided thematic choices puts Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed at the top (or bottom, if you will) of the list. As if to put the exclamation point on the run-on sentence of ignorance, lies and war crimes comprising the Bush administration, this execrable attempt was poorly thought-out, badly written, illogical, and dishonest. Which would be fine if it were at least amusing in its retardation, but its attempts at levity were as misguided as its thematic mission, canceling out even the prospect of laughing at Ben Stein’s deadpan efforts. (Oh, and Stein: You’re dead to me.)

Edward Burns Resolves: Following his starring turn in One Missed Call, which was both the first 2008 film release in the United States and a flaming turd about murderous cell phones, Burns resolved to just go back to making The Brothers McMullen over and over again. In a related development, Shannyn Sossamon resolved to learn how to spell “Shannon.”

Katherine Heigl Resolves: To advise everyone that she should not be nominated for an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, a People’s Choice Award, a Golden Globe, Marlboro Cancer Face of the Year, or Prettiest Woman at the Leper Colony. Also, to accept that she didn’t win People’s Sexiest Person Alive because “the material just wasn’t there.”

Biggest Disappointment: War, Inc. had great potential with a strong cast and an intriguing topic perfect for spinning out a dark comedy — something along the lines of Lord of War meets Wag the Dog. In retrospect, the choice of Joshua Seftel as director should have caused concern, given his lack of a meaningful track record for this sort of thing. The credited writers were equally unaccomplished, other than John Cusack, who worked on the screenplays for High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank. When you’re going for sophisticated, cynical comedy, the writing, pacing and tone are absolutely critical, so you can’t just slide by with a bunch of famous actors, and War, Inc. struck me as the most dispiriting waste of a great concept and solid acting talent in 2008.

(First Runner-Up: Even though I strongly suspected it was going to suck donkey balls, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still managed to crush the spirit of the 12-year-old boy that lives in my head.)

(Second Runner-Up: The critical success of Zack and Miri Make a Porno completely mystified me. I was totally psyched for a Kevin Smith/Seth Rogen/Elizabeth Banks project, and totally disappointed with the slapdash product.)

Jessica Alba Resolves: After the laughably bad horror film The Eye and Mike Myers’ low-brow nadir The Love Guru, Alba resolved only to accept roles meeting her intellectual standards. Next up: a stripper in Sin City 2.

Dane Cook Resolves: To be stabbier, especially around family.

Best Comedy (Intentional Division): In a relatively thin year for comedies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall showed that Judd Apatow may be the Pixar of the raunchcom — even his lesser efforts are stronger than the weak coffee usually on offer in his genre. Jason Segel showed strong lead chops for a comic everyman role, and for once a comedy finished stronger than it began. Also: nerd-ons across the geekosphere at the sight of Kristen Bell cowgirling some annoying British dude.

Alan Ball Resolves: To glue a picture of gay men fucking to the forehead of every bovine moron between Peoria and Omaha. That’ll show ‘em!

Christopher Nolan Resolves: To try, try, try to make a film as good as Iron Man.

Best Comedy (Unintentional Division): Untraceable, hands down. This movie was so uber-tardedly stupid that I watched it twice to figure out whether a real-time review might be appropriate. (Hint: It is.) Rivaling The Net in its mirthlessly paranoid and grim-faced take on the use of the internet for murderous mischief, Untraceable offers such a punishing string of progressively shittier techno-murders that it’s a major chore just to make it to the most worthwhile portion of the film — the point where the killer seizes control of Diane Lane’s SUV through the on-board computer, essentially equivalent to gaining mind-control over someone through her iPod. (Runner-Up: Teeth told the timeless story of girl meets boy, boy meets vagina, vagina has teeth, boy becomes anatomically correct transsexual. Much laughter ensued at inappropriate moments. Mrs. socalled was not amused.)

Robert Downey, Jr. Resolves: Stop being so goddamn dominant and let someone else have chance.

Warner Bros. Resolves: To try a marketing strategy other than necrophilia.

Comeback We Initially Loved But Are Learning to Hate: A companion award for the Best Unintentional Comedy. It was enjoyable and encouraging to see Diane Lane re-emerge from film actor purgatory in the late 1990s with A Walk on the Moon, followed by enjoyable turns in A Perfect Storm and Unfaithful. Even though Lane was only in her late 30s, she was great for playing roles a little older and to provide some depth to mature characters who happened to be beautiful and sexy. Since 2003, however, she has delivered the following odious jabs to the solar plexi of independent 40-ish women everywhere: Under the Tuscan Sun, Must Love Dogs, and Nights in Rodanthe, all of which stand for the proposition that if a woman is unhappy with her life as she nears middle age, it must be because she hasn’t found the right man yet. Travel, work and family are all well and good, but they’re really just a platform to find fulfillment with a penis and a wallet. And don’t get me started on Untraceable, in which Lane plays a woman who is every 70-year-old man’s wet dream — not because she’s sexy but because she proves that technology is really only trying to kill us.

Bill Maher Resolves: To make a documentary on the unsavory yet ludicrous nature of American politics, entitled Politiculous, in which he only interviews Karl Rove and Sarah Palin.

Billy Ray Cyrus Resolves: Follow up with Joe Simpson about how to meet and date younger women.

Let’s Wrap It Up, Ms. Swanson Award: The X-Files: I Want to Believe was a weak film that added nothing to mythology of the television series and substantially cheapened its legacy with a watered-down made-for-TV sensibility. In their zeal to create a standalone product that would not rely too heavily on brand loyalty, the producers sold out the loyal fans who created the platform that justified the existence of the product in the first place. The foreign box office turned the film into a commercial success, but the tepid showing in the United States probably doomed any plans for future entries in the series. That’s too bad, because a cougar-esque Dana Scully turned out to be high-octane boner fuel.

Morgan Spurlock Resolves: Now that his documentaries have taught the world that fast food is bad for you and that not all Muslims are terrorists, Spurlock has resolved to spread the word that chicken pox is really, really annoying but ultimately not that harmful.

Jennifer Love Hewitt Resolves: To be totally, completely, unreservedly, wholeheartedly fine with weighing more than she used to, even though she totally, completely, unreservedly, wholeheartedly doesn’t weigh more than she used to. [/stomps foot]

Pay to Cry Award: Dustin’s review perfectly captured my reaction to Wendy & Lucy, a grim, dreary indie about a down-on-her-luck woman who gets stranded in a small town, then spends the rest of the film looking for her lost dog. Michelle Williams was predictably terrific, but I just couldn’t really figure out why someone decided this movie needed to exist.

Abigail Breslin Resolves: Be just a bit more impossibly cute and talented.

Scarlett Johansson Resolves: Read Why Can’t I Go? Answers and Relief for Women With Chronic Constipation. Stop making the faces pictured in that book.

Ted Boynton is a dedicated sot who would leave his barstool only to stalk Whit Stillman, if anyone could find Whit Stillman. Ted also manages to hold down a job and a wife, three hours each per day, whether they need it or not. Readers may scold, hector, admonish or taunt Ted by e-mailing him at thecarygrantrules@hotmail.com.

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I Got So Drunk I Kissed My Wife

Odds and Ends and Celebrity Resolutions: The Boozehound Cinephile / Ted Boynton

Trade News | January 8, 2009 | Comments ()



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