Tag Archives: winter

Baby, It’s (Getting) Cold Outside!

December is here, and so winter* has officially started at Pussy Goes Grrr! Break out the boots and parkas! Or better yet, give hibernation a shot. Maybe grab a blanket and a space heater? It could work! At the very least, you’ll have plenty to read: we’re ending the year in style with musical numbers, more of “The Pataki Files,” more “One Hour Mark,” and some 2011-in-review frivolity. Plus surprises. Weird surprises.

As the days get shorter and the below-freezing temperatures get more oppressive, we’ll have all the reading material you need to stay warm. (And, as always, links to much more!)

*If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, please ignore all this talk of snow and enjoy your summer.

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Frozen: Wolves Are Pussies

[The following was written by both of us as part of the Final Girl Film Club; go check it out. Also note that spoilers are abundant, like wolves at a ski resort.]

Ashley:

So, Frozen! Or as I like to call it Poor Decisions: The Movie (or Douchey White Kids Doing Stupid Things and Paying For It: The Movie or I Don’t Give a Shit If These Characters Die: The Movie or Women Can’t Do Anything Right: The Movie or Nothing Happens for a While Then SOME WOLVES Then Nothing Happens for a While Then SOME FROSTBITE Then Nothing Happens for a While and Then MORE WOLVES and Then The End: The Movie). And now that I’ve stretched that joke to its logical extreme let’s talk about some assholes getting eaten by wolves!

Have you seen Open Water, my friend? It’s that movie that did for swimming what Jaws did for swimming, remember? About the couple who get left out in the middle of the goddamn ocean while scuba diving and [spoiler] totes get eaten by sharks. This is just like that! Just replace “ocean” with “ski lift” and “sharks” with “wolves” and you’ve got Frozen! Oh, and also replace “tension” with “hilarity” and “characters” with “place-holding dead meat” and “actual fear” with “oh-my-god-did-he-seriously-just-say-‘Wolves are pussies’?!?!?!” and then you have Frozen.

If you can’t tell from my endless well of snark, this movie is… well, bad. Really bad. Hilariously bad. Which makes it the kind of movie that Andreas and I just eat up with a big, goddamn, bad-dialogue-and-character-development spoon. We start out with some of the blandest, most boring (yet somehow completely unlikeable) characters ever as they attempt to bribe their way onto a swank ski resort’s lifts without paying full price for tickets. Our characters are as follows: Bro, Girlfriend, and Super Douchey Bro Who Is Jealous of Bro’s Girlfriend. They have real names, but do they really matter?

So Bro, Girlfriend and Douchey Bro (as he will be referred to from here on out) spend the day on the bunny slopes because Girlfriend is useless (you know, ’cause she has a vagina) and can’t even look at a snowboard without falling on her ass. Douchey Bro gets all up in arms about it and is all like “RWAR I WANNA DO SOME REAL MAN’S SNOWBOARDING NOT THIS GIRLY, PUSSY SHIT!” So, through a combination of Girlfriend’s guilt over intruding on precious, sacred Dood Time and both Girlfriend and Bro’s combined wish to appease the beast that is Douchey Bro’s butthurt-ness, they convince the lift operator they bribed earlier to let them take JUST ONE MORE RIDE, DUDE, COME ON, WE PAID YOU A HUNDRED BUCKS, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO NIGHT SKIING, GAWD!?

The operator gives them pretty damn good reasons why they shouldn’t: he’s not just being a killjoy, there’s some serious weather moving in, and motherfuckers need to go. But no amount of logic will stop stupid young adults who are under the impression that they can’t be eviscerated and have their entrails totally fucking eaten by wolves. So, through a series of stupid events, Bro, Girlfriend and Douchey Bro end up stranded hiiigh above the ground in the cold darkness.

So… yeah. They’re up there and it’s cold and junk. So they sit there and Douchey Bro is (surprisingly) acting like a douche. And okay, seriously, these people ARE SO FUCKING BORING. This part of the movie consists of Douchey Bro trying to play games like “Favorite Food” to distract himself from the biting cold (because it totally started  snowing like five seconds after all the lights went out and they became stranded). Is this really your tension building device, Frozen? Really? REALLY?

So finally Bro decides, FUCK IT, IMMA JUMP! This is probably the most interesting part of the whole movie simply because the movie is extraordinarily cruel to this character (who is the most likeable out of this incredibly unlikeable trio of assholes [and he’s only the most likeable because he doesn’t have defining characteristics such as ‘being useless and crying a lot’ or ‘being a dick hole’]). Earlier in the film, when our three fuckers are discussing what they think is the scariest ways to die are, Bro says that the scariest for him would be being eaten by an animal, just seeing it coming and knowing what will happen (movie uses FORESHADOWING! IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE!). So Bro jumps and is totally 100% okay. J/k, his legs are all:

And so what do you think happens to our Bro? Eaten by wolves, motherfucker. (But not before Girlfriend and Douchey Bro THROW DOWN ARTICLES OF THEIR CLOTHING to try and SOMEHOW help Bro. They are smart, smart people.) And then Girlfriend is all:

And I’m just like “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.” Which is NOT how you’re supposed to respond to someone being eaten by wolves. And honestly, beyond this moment, the movie just really becomes a blur for me; a hodgepodge of obnoxious crying, pointless bickering, anti-climactic shots of frostbite, boring camerawork, and one incredibly, unnecessarily gratuitous shot of Girlfriend pissing herself. So, since my I think I’ve written more snark than even I can handle, I will hand the rest of the review over to Alice.

Alice:

I admit I didn’t come into Frozen expecting visual poetry or nuanced characters; all I really wanted was a good people-trapped-in-a-scary-place movie that, perhaps, would prey on my fear of heights and disdain for the cold. (As a lifelong Minnesotan, I’ve basically been enduring an earthbound version of Frozen during my daily walks to class.) Under those fairly mild expectations, writer/director Adam Green’s third film is a qualified success. Only a handful of scenes actually scared me, but at least the rest of it was ridiculous and laughable enough to be entertaining. After all, as Ashley pointed out, “[wolves]’re pussies, man.”

Between the wolves, the broken legs, the frostbite, and the skin-coming-off-Parker’s-hands thing, Frozen did have some effective gross-out moments, but they were all pretty inert. When Parker (aka Girlfriend) tears her hands off the bar and sees all the congealed blood, she just gazes at them; it’s like she’s thinking, “Huh. I don’t remember them being like that.” In fact, it reminds a little me of Sharon’s brother and his skeletized hands in Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. (By the way, will someone please make Death Chairlift: The Chairlift That Eats?) In between these flashes of gore, we get lots of potentially suspenseful waiting. Yes, we as viewers are also trapped in the chairlift… unfortunately, we’re trapped there with fucking Parker and Lynch, as well as their inane, interminable dialogue.

Jesus Christ, Parker and Lynch. If given the choice, I think I’d rather be trapped in that elevator with the assholes from Devil. Or better yet, in that house from Saw II. (With Shawnee Smith! Sigh.) Up in that chairlift, you’re forced to listen to Douchey Bro Lynch prattle on about his past, his future, his hopes, his dreams, and man, is he a boring person! It’s like all of a sudden you’re watching an avant-garde production of Waiting for Godot, where Godot is a pack of wolves and “Shall we go?” — “Yes, let’s go,” is the conversation you’re having with your viewing companion. It’s not like I’m allergic to a little tension-building inactivity, but where was the tension? They were cold, then they continued being cold.

In fact, this cycle of “shot, reverse shot, anecdote, establishing shot” went on for so long that I made up a little song to bide the time. Which is to say that I came up with several new verses to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf,” featuring lines like

He fell to the ground,

It made a loud sound,

Then he got eaten by a wolf…

You get the idea.

Personally, I prefer the writing in Frozen‘s early scenes. Since Green isn’t trying to push the pathos button yet (“Oh no! Lynch was going to marry that girl he just met! Now I care about him!”), we get delightfully silly lines like, “Football games are more than ten minutes. They’re like lots of ten minuteses, you know?” or “I don’t know. She’s naked. Naked chicks are hot.” (Both courtesy of Douchey Bro Lynch.) I also loved the redundancy in Parker’s panicked screams when they realize they’re stuck: “We have to get out of these chairs! We can’t stay up in this chair! Why isn’t the goddamn chair moving, Dan?!” Hey, if Adam Green doesn’t take these characters seriously, why should I?

So rest assured, Frozen has enough of these bad-movie perks to make it worth your while. And at its best, it gets pretty scary: the characters may be loud-mouthed ciphers, but the climactic climb across the chairlift cables would put me on edge if it was being performed by a crash test dummy. As Douchey Bro Lynch would say, I’m a pussy when it comes to heights. The biggest tragedy of Frozen, though, is that it looks so boring. I understand the story’s inherent visual limitations, but seriously, that poster at the top is way more dynamic than the movie itself ever gets! It’s bad enough that the writing’s so painfully generic without having a palette that consists entirely of dull white and murky nighttime blue.

If you’re desperate for a people-trapped-in-a-scary-place horror movie fix, Frozen should suffice, but it’s pretty thin gruel. In closing, here’s a list of lessons I learned from Dan, Lynch, and Parker’s wacky misadventures:

  • Wolves are pussies. (But they will still nom your face off.)
  • In times of crisis, men yell things and do stupid shit. Women cry, piss themselves, and sleep with their skin against freezing metal. (These are called gender stereotypes.)
  • If you’re going skiing, bring a cellphone.
  • If you don’t bring a cellphone, at least let someone know where you are and when you’ll be back.
  • If you don’t do that, you’re one of the characters in Frozen. Dumbass.
  • Sarlacc > wolves.
  • Don’t itch at it, for chrissake!
  • Hang on to every warm article of clothing you have. A scarf hanging from a tree will not help save your boyfriend from wolves.
  • He ran down the slope, / There was a ray of hope, / But then he got eaten by a wolf…

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Link Dump: #15

It’s that time of year again! The “most wonderful time”! The time when you start feeling bad about how inadequate all the presents you’re giving are (and all the people you’re forgetting), when you feel guilty over not being able to spend enough time with family, when it’s cold as fuck outside and a new year is looming around the corner. Wonderful.

This week’s special Xmas kitty comes courtesy of Rankin/Bass’s stop-motion classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), because Ashley vetoed my selection from A Garfield Christmas (1987). And now I have an inadequate present for you, dear reader: links! Here’s the best of the Internet for the past week:

  • Andrew Pulver of The Guardian wrote this terrifically in-depth essay on Jules Dassin’s great noir Night and the City.
  • From the “What If?” Department: Victorian Star Trek, complete with sepia tone.
  • The verse may not be great, but Adam Watson’s “Dr. Seuss does Star Wars” drawings are hilarious. Especially Jabba.
  • Vulture has “2010’s 25 Best Performances That Won’t Win Oscars,” many of which are dead-on, and contain a few more end-of-year overlooked movie suggestions.
  • Slate Magazine has 17 overlooked Christmas movies, including All That Heaven Allows and Eyes Wide Shut. That’s my kind of list! Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club has three more, one of which features Jimmy Durante and a squirrel.
  • The San Diego Film Critics Society gets my admiration for 1) being one of the few critics’ groups to break with the Social Network solidarity and 2) actually making interesting, wide-ranging choices. Scott Pilgrim! Shutter Island! Never Let Me Go! Variety!
  • Here’s a hilarious top 10 movies list from Lisanti Quarterly. I seriously can’t wait to see The Super-Loony One.
  • But with all this year-end cinematic partying, we can’t forget the year’s worst movies: here are lists from The Film Doctor, The Telegraph, and The A.V. Club.
  • The ultimate holiday present: zombie-centric reinterpretations of beloved movies!
  • You know what’s really threatening America? Businesses that say “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Thankfully, some clever Who down in Whoville came up with GrinchAlert.com, where irate customers can put Baby Jesus-hating stores on the “Naughty list,” and presumably boycott them. (Go sarcasm!)

As your reward for receiving the above gift, here’s a bonus: the past week’s wacky search term action! I was greatly amused by the horny redundancy in “i like sex and pussy also” and the saccharine overkill of “animated smiling heart.” Someone accidentally created a porno spoof title with a dash of Latin by searching for “dr. jekyll et mr. hyde fuck.” (Let’s not dwell on the mechanics of that action, by the way.) Lastly, I’m kind of baffled by all the hits from “fogging cockroach.” Maybe they’re searching for an exterminator? FYI: Pussy Goes Grrr is not a bug extermination website. We also can’t recommend any good ones. Sorry, and have a happy winter!

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Happy holidays: a visit to the mall

‘Tis the season. Etc. I’m sitting once again in the public library trying to write while surrounded by, well, the types of people who use the computers in the public library. It’s late December. In 1-2 days, it will be Christmas. And how does Christmas most visibly manifest itself in America? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t involve money, sales, price tags, advertising, and merchandise.

Much has been said, endlessly, over several decades, about the notorious “commercialization of Christmas.” And, I guess, I’m here to add a little to this fretful discourse. Much hand-wringing persists every December; many remarks about what we’re celebrating and how dollar signs have replaced Christmas trees, or Santa Claus, or whatever it is the speaker holds sacred in the first place (also, at times, baby Jesus?).

My perspective on this came as I was wandering around the malls in this area. I have an affinity for malls, which Ashley and I were discussing last night: they’re simultaneously communal locations where people can gather, and also hubs of economic exchange. You can go to a mall to be around others, but the central purpose is always to spend money. Clothes, jewelry, other necessities, even food (hell, even “courts” of food!) – to quote Homer Simpson, “For an evening or a week, there’s no place like the mall.  Food, fun and fashion – the mall has it all!” (It’s telling that malls would be emblematic of Homer’s hedonistic, spend-happy attitude toward life.)

So I spent some time at the Ridgedale Mall, currently thriving and crammed with rushing consumers, as well as the Knollwood Mall of St. Louis Park, MN, which is slowly dying. Go into either of these places at any time of year, and you’d see them bustling with people who want – nay, need! – to buy things. Visit them a few days before Christmas and you see crowds of people desperate to buy massive amounts of gifts. The socially encouraged need to spend is so heavily compounded by this one time of year when everyone needs to spend more than ever.

One curious phenomenon is window shopping. Stores like to dress up their front windows to show what kinds of products they have to offer inside. So you can peer through, yearn for what you see, and then go in and buy some of it. I’m always a little disturbed by the mannequins. They’re intended to look appealing – for example, see the ones with the silver and gold skin. Clearly they want to give off a feel of affluence, yet all you wonder is, Where did the head go?

The sad truth, of course, is that when the heads are still attached, the mannequins fall into the eerie territory of the uncanny valley. That’s pretty obviously the motivation behind the headlessness. So the fact is that there’s no way for mannequins not to be unpleasant on some level: it’s an attempt to represent human beings wearing clothing without actually having human beings. Either you have a headless doll, or else one with a plastered-on smile, or else one with no face at all, which is prime horror story material by itself.

Maybe I just overthink these things, but mannequins seem to open up all kinds of weird avenues: Pygmalion-and-Galatea fantasies for the consumers, voyeurism, being able to dress up and look at a woman without a subjectivity of her own. After all, these mannequins are being posed with their hands at their sides, passively modeling. And do I even want to get into the issue of their uniform body sizes, suggesting that every woman should imagine being this life-size doll, proportioned like this, wearing these clothes?

Some of the images I found in the Knollwood Mall, a place that’s rapidly running out of stores, felt almost like grotesque self-parodies. Consumerism is a fickle mistress/master/whatever gender word you want to apply to consumerism. There were escalators, no longer in use. There was no food court; instead, they had the “snack shack”:

So barren, so desolate, so unintentionally comical. There’s not much of a shack in sight, unless those white lines painted on the wall are supposed to represent the framework of a building. And aren’t “shacks” pretty shabby buildings in the first place? It feels like a rip-off on top of a rip-off, as if they’d had a sign saying “Crumbling Building Containing Food,” and instead there was just a big box of food, with no roof or door of any kind.

Usually when I encounter a vending machine or two purveying liquid or solid nourishment, it’s without much fanfare. The vending machines are pretty self-evident. Their very presence itself says, “We’re vending machines. Come put coins or bills into us, but don’t try any really crinkled or torn dollars, because we won’t accept those.” In the case of the “snack shack,” however, these two vending machines are clearly trying to be something. I.e., a replacement for a restaurant.

What’s sadder? A temple of money in full bloom, or one in decay? At the former, I was being buffeted by dozens of eager consumers, streaming past kiosks and potted plants, arguing with family members, carrying shopping bags, being barraged with free samples by the folk managing those kiosks. At the latter, I saw a few shoppers, looking dazed and tired, with no opportunity to have their children meet Santa Claus. I also saw a sign advertising advertising.

So at once, this sign is making us aware of the frequency with which advertising enters our lives, and implores us to contribute. Unfortunately for the advertisers, this sign is not being seen every 10 seconds by someone with a product to advertise (and I personally doubt whether it’s actually being seen every 10 seconds; I know that for a few minutes, I was the only person seeing it). I guess I find it a little humorous that a sign should appear both so desperate and so self-aware.

“Advertise here!” it seems to say. “Please, I’ll let you in on my little secret if you do!” Advertising is about creating awareness of a product; this advertisement is about creating awareness of how often awareness is created. It’s fascinating, and a little sad – it’s like a lost puppy, a sign without anything to sell. As if it’s forgotten what it’s like to shill for a specific company. Let’s pray that for Christmas, that sign gets what it so obviously wants: something to sell to people, whether every 10 seconds or every 10 minutes.

So that’s my little visit to the yuletide abyss that is the mall, a place designated solely for shopping, yet one engineered to feel strangely like home. Carols are wafted in over the PA system; a large and jolly man is dressed up in red and white. Tinsel is strung with care by people employed to string tinsel with care. Then the shoppers come, because they must. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t really be Christmas, now would it?

For an evening or a week, there's no place like the mall.  Food, fun and fashion - the mall has it all!

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“I’m an oilman…”: P.T. Anderson, comics, and winter

This is going to be a short post, but I like this streak of consistency I have going, so despite my immense drowsiness – and the fact that I’m knee-deep in quiz bowl questions to write – I’m going to take a stab at writing something. First, I recommend checking out the AV Club’s “best films of the ’00s” feature, which includes 4 that I wrote about a few weeks back, and several that I was strongly considering writing about. I guess since it’s December, it’s getting to be a better time to actually talk about the decade as a whole. And while I may still be totally unqualified to do so, I did see one more very, very acclaimed (and deserving) movie not long ago.

There Will Be Blood is just one of those movies that makes you jump around inspired by the memory of watching it, repeating to yourself, “I’m an oilman…” in your best Daniel Plainview brogue. It’s a movie where every piece of style and theme slide together to tell a story that’s written on the face of one hungry man and across the face of the California landscape – and across the history of modern civilization. A story about Oil!, as Upton Sinclair’s novel put it.

We’ve got Jonny Greenwood’s dissonant, anxiety-inducing score; the masterful direction of Paul Thomas Anderson, who holds the film’s mood tight and makes the human drama a counterpoint to the drama bubbling underground; and a cast as tense and earthy as the oil-rich soil beneath their feet. And Day-Lewis even meets his match with a co-star in his early twenties, the prodigious Paul Dano (Dwayne from Little Miss Sunshine) who explodes on-screen as a devout young preacher.

Daniel Plainview’s greed and Eli Sunday’s evangelism aren’t just simple, character-defining attributes, either – they’re conflicted (both men fear their own weaknesses and those of their families), and developed through scene after scene full of rich characterization, played out with the same emotional grandeur that Anderson’s proven himself the master of again and again, all leading to a brazen, intense finale.

You sit there, hear a Brahms violin concerto playing as if nothing’s happened, and realize the movie has hit you like a bowling pin in the face. I’m not sure exactly what There Will Be Blood‘s legacy will be, but I do know that the legacies of everyone involved (especially Anderson and Day-Lewis) will be very much tied up with this film, and I strongly suspect that if you pencilled in a spot for it on your list of the greatest films of all time, you wouldn’t come to regret it.

So that’s my abbreviated take on one of the greatest films of the decade, which I watched a few weeks ago but just came to comment on now. Before I go, let me comment briefly on one of the books I’m currently making my way through: The Best American Comments 2008, edited by Lynda Barry. Maybe I’m a year late, but with great comics, you’re never too late. A number of the usual suspects are present, like Alison Bechdel with some DTWOF strips about politics and child-rearing, and Chris Ware with a typically amazing series of New Yorker covers about Thanksgiving that bloom from 1 panel to 256, telling a layered story of family, history, and gratitude.

Also present are some interesting artists I’ve never heard of: Lilli Carré with the Möbius strip story “The Thing About Madeline” and Jason Lutes with excerpts from Berlin, which just blew me away. Granted, I’m always a sucker for anything about Weimar Germany, but the level of observation in the storytelling and the precision with which it’s laid out are captivating, and I started getting attached to characters I knew nothing about – a ruined businessman, an angry, poverty-stricken widower, and others. I was also impressed by how Lutes uses the formal properties of comics to bring all these disparate stories together, showing people divided by class and age but each affected by the unique conditions of Germany just before the Nazis.

And facial expressions: Lutes does them so well, and I think it’s fascinating how important they can be in comics. So much of our understanding of a character can be gleaned from changes in facial expressions from one panel to the next, and if we train our eyes on one panel, that expression stays frozen in its own perpetual meaning. I love comics!

I also love Rick Geary, who has an excerpt from The Saga of the Bloody Benders featured in the anthology. (The Benders are so interesting – why hasn’t their story been made into a great movie?) I’ve read Geary’s takes on Charles J. Guiteau and H.H. Holmes, and I crave more [hint hint for Christmas…]; in fact, I crave more historical graphic nonfiction in general.

All that said, I’d better get back to some combination of writing other stuff, watching movies, and sleeping. It snowed this morning, marking the first snowfall since October, which means that now the Minnesota winter is really beginning. It also means that I should use the snow as inspiration to write the next draft of my screenplay, Gestation Period, so we can film it this coming January and February. More about that as it progresses. In the meantime, enjoy the snow if you have it, and if not, enjoy this picture.

best films of the ’00s

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