You Failed to Make a Movie: The Final

This film provides a challenge for the common film reviewer – how can you write a review of a movie that had absolutely nothing to say? Although that’s not an entirely fair statement, the film does have a statement it’s trying to make (Columbine = Yay!), but it’s delivered in such a cliched and poorly-thought-out manner that I found myself staring at much of the film in disbelief.

But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself – this movie’s utter failure is apparent from its initial frames, long before the premise rears its ugly head.

We open in black and white, for reasons that won’t become clear immediately, but the moment it's revealed I realized that the whole B/W affectation was a ridiculously pretentious indulgence.

Also, it leads to the following person’s credit being lost to the ages.

You know, the entire left side of the screen is black. Or perhaps she requested this slight, in the hopes that no one would ever associate her with the film…


Criminal Minds 212: Profiler, Profiled

Like the unabomber episode before it, this one opens with a bang! Although it’s much less impressive. It’s just Reid impressing the girls in the office by making a simple rocket. How simple? It involves putting baking soda and vinegar in a plastic film case, then snapping it shut and turning it upside down.

You may remember this ‘experiment’ from the first grade. Or episodes of Mr. Wizard aimed at the under-5 set. Yet it’s portrayed as something neat or weird that Reid is able to do.

I mean, jeez, it’s not like this is even a weird fun trick, like the match in the upturned glass creating a vacuum. It’s just baking soda and vinegar, like everyone’s paper mache volcanoes.

Is there anything more ridiculous than the way ‘smart’ people are depicted by television?

Anyhoo, let’s get to the actual story. Derek’s in Chicago for his mother’s birthday, and he’s both being followed by someone with a camera and menaced by gangsters.

It’s also mysterious because he’s standing over someone’s grave in that shot. But whose grave, and why? And who does he have to see at the local youth center? One of the kids, or the hardbitten coach? Derek breaks up a fight in the street between a couple of kids, who’ve heard of him because of his time playing football at that selfsame youth centre. Yup, he’s a local hero, right up until the cops show up to arrest him for the murder of one of the fighting kids?

Is Derek a murderer? Does his love of murder come from the fact that he and his sisters were adopted by white people? I guess we’ll find out after the opening credits!


The Graves isn't as funny as Darkplace

Well, it's (DAY YOU SET THIS TO PREPOST) yet again, which means it's time to take a look at just what Tony Todd’s inestimable gifts are being wasted on this week!

There’s maybe ninety seconds where The Graves feels like it’s going to work. The opening of the film is so hacky, obvious, perfunctory, and lifeless that it seems like the writer/director (Brian ‘Garth Marenghi’ Pulido) is making an incisive parody of the killbilly genre.

A vacationing family (mom, dad, and baby) head out to a blacksmithing display being performed by what’s obviously a serial killer. I mean, we don’t see him or anything, but look at his hair, and trust me when I tell you that his voice is just ridiculous.

Also. A replica pioneer village in the middle of nowhere is completely where you would take your uncomprehending baby. That’s utterly plausible.


The Twelfth-point-five-Greatest Panel in the History of Comicsl

Ah, deviance. You were truly the hallmark of the Bulletman series.

Drag, stripping, bondage and murder. All in a single panel. I know it's not a record, but damn that's not bad.

Also, criminals are entertained by odd things.


FlashForward Lowers the Bar!

FlashForward, in addition to its pretentious, gramatically incorrect title, is a show whose basic premise (everybody sees six months in the future, mass deaths ensue) is unbelievably thrilling, and whose execution is amazingly dull. I could go on and on about the contrived plotting, terrible pacing, the fact that Joseph Fiennes seems to be attempting with all his might to present the least interesting main character in the history of network drama (Take That, Felicity!)…

But the triumphant return of FF last Thursday is worth mentioning for one single reason: It contained the second-worst comeback ever.


Criminal Minds 211: Sex, Birth, Death

Time for Fincher-Vision here at Criminal Minds. What do I mean by that? Well, take a look at this quick vid-

Yup. It’s the song from the end of Fight Club, playing over random scenes of sin and a guy typing in a diary that cribs from John Doe’s journals in Seven.

Well, it’s the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Anyhoo, right as the montage ends there’s an actual attack on a prostitute, who’s stabbed to death, then has some hair harvested by a black-clad madman.

Perhaps coincidentally a high school student stops Reid on the way to work and asks him about his work as a profiler, while being excessively creepy. He crosses the creepiness threshold when asking about the way serial killers constantly target prostitutes, then mentions the specifics of the murder that just happened.

This is actually a common myth that I think it’s important to address here – the line that the teen asks about whores: “Is it for sex, or is it because they think they’re dirty and they need to be punished?”

These are popular beliefs about the whole serial killers targeting whores thing – and they’re completely wrong. Not to say that there aren’t a few serial killers out there who have those kinds of religio-sexual hangups, but they’re not the majority, and they’re not why prostitutes are the number 1 target of serial killers. You know the real reason?

Because a prostitute is a person who will go with you to a secondary location. That’s it.

Serial killers want to kill people. And they don’t want to go to jail for doing it. That means they have to kill in private. A person you know will go somewhere private with you, but when they turn up dead, you might be a suspect. A person you don’t know can’t be connected to you, but will likely not go somewhere private with you, so it’s hard to kill them.

A prostitute is a person who you don’t know who will go somewhere private with you. They fulfill both criteria on the serial killer’s checklist, and they’re the only large group of people to do so.

Anyhoo, back to the show. Reid goes into the office and tells people about the creepy kid, calling the police to confirm the victim MO, and handing out a sketch.

Well, at least there’s something Reid’s not good at…



The word means, quite simply, the quality of appearing real – which is why it sppears so often in reviews of films, especially those based on true events.

Take, for example, ‘To Catch A Killer’, the 1992 television miniseries about the arrest of John Wayne Gacy, as played by Brian Dennehy in a virtuoso performance. A title card at the film’s outset establishes the rules-

And the film does a pretty accurate job of covering the last two weeks of Gacy’s freedom, from the killing a drug store stock boy to his arrest for the murders of 33 young men.

The producers even do their best to make it period-appropriate, since the film is set in the year 1978. The cars are all the correct vintage, as are the clothes, hell, someone even makes a comment about the minimum wage being 2.50 an hour. So it’s obvious that the production cared about verisimilitude.

And then this happens –

Gacy is hanging out with a potential victim in his rec room. Nothing weird about that, right?

Um… yeah. In 1978, Michael Jordan was 15 years old. I mean, I’m sure he was already a great basketball player, but he wasn’t actually being merchandised yet.

This is such a weird mistake, too – it’s not like an extra who forgot to take his digital watch off while putting on a tunic – this is a cast member with actual dialogue, who was being paid real money to be there, wearing clothes picked out by a wardrobe supervisor and then approved by someone who makes more money than she does.

Not to mention every single person on the set that day – every single one of them looked at that shirt, saw the Michael Jordan logo, and didn’t do or say anything about it.

Ah, moviemaking.


Brian Pulido is the Real Garth Marenghi

So I’m watching terrible film (and future entry in my semi-recurring series: Tony Todd is Too Good For This) The Graves, and something odd happens. The main characters are first introduced in a scene set, for no good reason, inside a comic book shop.

(I received no remuneration for including this product placement. I can’t say about the filmmakers.)

Here’s the scene in question:

That certainly seemed like an odd interlude that served no purpose, didn’t it? So then I get to the end of the film, and notice, for the first time, who wrote and directed the movie.

The name sounded oddly familiar, so I decided to look it up on the old webternet, and it turns out that Brian Pulido is the creator of both Lady Death and the writer of ‘Mischief Night’, the other comic mentioned. (Fun Fact – Mischief Night’s artist was Juan Jose Ryp, the poor man’s Geoff Darrow. Or, more charitably, the Geoff Darrow who gets off his ass and actually draws a comic more than once every five years.)

For those of you not familiar, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is a Channel 4 show about an egotistical writer who’s obsessed with the brilliance of his own creations. Here’s the relevance sequence from episode 3: “Skipper, The Eyechild”

So, other than the fact that Pulido did not cast himself as a brilliant doctor who the pretty girls convince of the genius of one ‘Brian Pulido’, how is that different?


Criminal Minds 210: Lessons Learned

It’s finally time for Criminal Minds to tacky the thorny issue of Islamic-themed terrorism! A DEA SWAT team breaks into a suspected drug lab, and finds instead a bomb-making hideout! The terrorists escape, but the bomb is scary enough to force Greg to get out of bed at 6AM – and he’s going to have to miss his new son’s portrait being taken the next day, too!

It’s rough being Greg.

Back at HQ, it seems that Emily’s now officially on the team. Good for her! And it turns out she can read Arabic, and translates their message into English and breaks their relatively simple code: There’s going to be an attack in two days. Then it’s time for some PC ass-covering – when someone announces that the terrorist mastermind calls himself ‘Soldier of God’, and it’s commented that Al Qaeda believes that they’re engaged in a holy war, Reid points out that the words ‘Holy’ and ‘War’ never appear together in the Koran.

As if that means something.

You know, the word ‘Crusade’ isn’t in the bible either. So?

Luckily the terrorist mastermind is already in Gitmo, so they’re going to have to profile some answers to him if they want to save the day!

Then, right before the credits, Mandy mentions something odd – he says that if they don’t stop it, this could be the first terrorist attack in America since 9/11.

Uh… the Anthrax attacks? The Beltway Snipers? That guy who was blowing up army recruiting centers without killing anyone? Has he not been paying attention?


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Jennifer Lopez Edition

J. Lo.’s triumphant return to the stage at SNL proved to be one of the cleanest episodes of the year – not only were there no rape jokes of any kind, but even the two gay jokes were largely harmless!

This relative cleanliness gives me a golden opportunity to mention one of the other recurring sketches I have a problem with: ESPN Classic. If you haven’t seen the specific sketch I’m talking about it doesn’t matter, because they’re all exactly the same. Two guys fail at describing women’s sports, and make crude jokes about women’s hygiene.

I find these sketches so unpleasant that I’ve been tempted to add a ‘MisogynyWatch’ to the regular posting – but I haven’t yet because of the overt misogyny of the show is so far restricted to just this one recurring sketch. Like how I wouldn’t have started the RapeWatch if the only time rape came up was the despicable endlessly returning ‘Scared Straight’ sketches.

I am weirdly fascinated by this sketch, though, because of its similarity to a great moment from Alan Partridge, which, thanks to the magic of Youtube, you can see embedded below.


The Twelfth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

It's another dispatch from the Golden Age - in this one we learn that there's nothing funnier than suicide!

Again, children's comic.

Lake Mungo Is Almost Too Good

Time for a bit of a departure here at the Castle – instead of only being motivated by hatred and contempt, I’m going to make an effort to write about a subject that I actually enjoy. Weird, right? So, without any further ado, let’s take a dip in Lake Mungo!

Okay, one more bit of ado – I just wanted to point out that I seriously opened this post with a bad pun, and then apologize for that.

Sorry. Now let’s move on…

To the sunny shores of Lake Mungo!


The disturbing moral lessons of Numb(three)rs and Medium

My fandom for actor Peter MacNicol ensured that I would tune in to Numb(three)rs when it premiered some six years back. I found the show to be a passable procedural, barely worth mentioning, let alone remembering. Still, the inertia of fiction kept me watching for the next few seasons, even as I began to grow unsettled by the show’s lacklustre storytelling, terribly-used science, and its habit of borrowing its plots rather shamelessly from other shows and popular films.

This came to a head at the beginning of season five, when an episode so closely remade the plot of a film that the writers’ arrogance triggered a kind of reflexive disgust in me, and I haven’t watched an episode since (save for the time Gregg Henry was on, because hey, Gregg Henry).

Thinking back I can’t imagine the episode was as bad as I remember, but its obviousness was just too much to bear. If you don’t believe me, just check out ‘Blowback’, or as I call it: “The Numb(three)rs theatre players present: LA Confidential - The TV Show!”.


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Galfinakis Edition

It’s time for the glorious return of the Saturday Night Live RapeWatch, which has been on a hiatus due to my depression with the overall terribility of the show, save for the Jon Hamm edition, which featured all of the brilliant comedy we’ve come to expect of him, and not enough objectionable material to warrant me getting angry enough to write about.

We’re back now, though, so let’s take a look at Zach Galfinakis’ first outing as a host of SNL!


Criminal Minds 209: The Last Word

If the beginning of this episode of Criminal Minds is to be believed, some people are just too stupid to live. A family is out picnicking in the park, and while the wife is alone at the table for a moment a mysterious man runs out of the words and announces that his daughter has disappeared. So what does the woman do? Does she yell and run to the crowd of people fifty feet away, hoping to gather a large group of people that can quickly locate this missing child?

Nope, she follows a stranger into the woods.

I’m not saying she deserved to get murdered and then have her corpse raped by the fake Green River Killer, but come on. There’s a bare minimum of personal safety that you have to maintain to deserve being taken seriously as a sentient human being, and she just performed the serial killer equivalent of walking blindfolded out into traffic.

Later that night a prostitute is woken up by her son – once she realizes what time it is she races out the door to get to work. Only to wind up gunned down my a mysterious toque-wearing figure!

Are the two killers the same man? Probably not, but I guess we’ll find out after the opening credits!