what goes into 13 twice?

I heard that joke as a kid when Roman Polanski raped Samantha Geimer. I didn’t get it then, but we’ve made a joke about child rape for a long time. When it’s a boy and a female teacher, we say he’s lucky. Lucky to be fucked up for life? We waver between the idiocy of making an 18 year old boy with a 17 year old girlfriend a sex offender, and the vile complicity of judges who say “it takes two to tango” when a pedophile rapes a young girl. Probably because as a society that was born of Puritans, we are both ashamed of and obsessed with sex.

I recently watched the terribly slanted “Wanted and Desired” documentary on Polanski that puts him on a pedestal and paints him as the victim. It was revealing, but I didn’t agree with its conclusion. Polanski is no Leo Frank. He was not lynched. He pleaded guilty, hoping to walk. When he realized that public sentiment was against him, and the judge could give him 50 years- he ran. The prosecutor who boasted that the judge was going to throw the book now admits he lied. Polanski also hasn’t paid damages to the girl.

Only in America would we demonize a young girl and her mother when she was violated by a rich and powerful celebrity. Polanski knew what he did was wrong. He himself said in an interview, “everyone wants to f*** young girls!” I admit that America has a Puritan view of sex, but I don’t think sex with a 13 year old, after plying her with pills and champagne, is something an adult can justify, no matter what stage of grief he may be in.

samantha geimer Pictures, Images and Photos

The tabloids and nutsos surely made his life hell after the Manson killings; I’ve read quotes that blamed him for his horror films, suggested he was involved, and so on. But that does not make him innocent in this case. He survived much tragedy, and sadly chose to victimize someone weaker than he, rather than empathize with her. He has only acted like a guilty man with power, using it to evade justice. I am disgusted by Hollywood’s outpouring of support for him. No pinnacle of artistic genius, no litany of prior sufferings, allows you to victimize another. Not even forgiveness 30 years later absolves you. I’m sure Samantha wants it all to finally be over, and doesn’t want to be dragged into court to be raped in the court of public opinion again.

We don’t ask murder victims what they were wearing. It’s another bit of Calvinist rhetoric- you deserve what happens to you. What did you do to deserve it? Admittedly, Samantha’s mother may have been pushy and starstruck, but as the judges say, it takes two to tango. Samantha couldn’t rape herself. Roman should have known better. And I hope he serves his sentence. 50 years? A bit much. But you can write a great script in a few years, in a prison cell I imagine. You have a lot to think about in there.

I like what Andrew Vachss, lawyer and child advocate, has to say about it.

Oh, the sunglasses aren’t an affectation. He was hit in the eye with a chain when he was young. I’d also like to thank Caitlyn of 1416 and Counting for getting my Irish up about this with her own post.

George Carlin and the 7 words you can’t say in the afterlife

Sadly, one of the greatest comedians who ever lived has passed into the great beyond. George Carlin died last night at the age of 71, of heart failure.

George Carlin, the Grammy-Award winning standup comedian and actor who was hailed for his irreverent social commentary, poignant observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and groundbreaking routines like “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” died in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, according to his publicist, Jeff Abraham. He was 71.

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The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, went into the hospital on Sunday afternoon after complaining of heart trouble. The comedian had worked last weekend at The Orleans in Las Vegas.

from this New York Times article.

Carlin’s manic curmudgeon persona and his misanthropic observations on life were that unique kind of comedy that made you laugh and think. Nowadays most comedians just make you think about poop or some bizarre sexual practice they’re talking about, but Carlin had a unique way of looking at things. Hi HBO specials were some of the best comedy out there, and I imagine they’ll be in re-runs soon.

He started with wordplay- if you look him up on youtube, his Ed Sullivan show skits are still clever and funny, without any of the “7 words” he was famous for. After Lenny Bruce died, he sort of carried the torch. Is there anyone like him out there? We’ve got plenty of profane comedians who say things that even George didn’t, but he had a bleak and hilarious perspective on things that will be sorely missed.
R.I.P., George.

Who am I kidding? He wouldn’t want that shit. Here’s a send-off from one of his 80’s specials.

Rat shit, bat shit, dirty old twat.
Sixty nine assholes tied in a knot!
Hooray, lizard shit, FUCK!

Open Water – The Real Story

This may be old news, a movie that came out five years ago, based on people who died in ’98; I popped it in my queue after vacationing in Hawaii. We didn’t go scuba diving, but we snorkeled. I also popped in Joe Versus the Volcano, and had no intentions of leaping into lava.

Open Water is an effective existential horror film. It’s not Jaws, though sharks certainly appear. It’s about a busy couple who take a spontaneous vacation, and go on a diving trip. It has no shaky-cam but still feels like vacation footage- claustrophobic and centered on them, as they relax and mess around in their hotel room. It plays with our expectations a little; they go out on the dive, and the boat crew is adamant about safety regulations, butting heads with an arrogant Aussie who forgot his mask but demands a dive.

Even we forget about the couple, Susan and Daniel, who stick to themselves and could be anybody. The boat crew readies to leave, miscounts the number of people… and leaves them alone in a reef where sharks are known to feed.

They rise and think they drifted, and wait for one of the two boats they see in the distance to realize they’re missing, and come pick them up. Typical entitled tourists, but aren’t we all? The underlying question is, what would you do? I had a high school pal named Fred who’d say that. Usually when pointing at a babe in spandex, and preceded by “If she got nekked right now…”

“What would you do?”

(Well, Fred, she does get naked in the prologue.)
The mounting sense of dread comes when the speck-size boats disappear over the horizon, and we’re reminded just how unimportant our lives are to the world and strangers, and how easily we could be forgotten. It comes from imagining a long, drawn out death spanning hours or days, adrift at sea with monsters below and an infinity of emptiness all around you.

Now imagine that this was loosely based on the true story of two LSU grads who just came back from 4 years of volunteering for the Peace Corps, and rewarded themselves with a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Imagine they paid hundreds of dollars to be ferried out there with a group of 20 people, none of whom realized they were left behind, not even the crew who were responsible for counting them.

Pretty horrible, huh? Now think that when they got back, the shuttle bus operator told the crew they were missing, but nothing was done. Not until two days later, when they cleaned the boat and found their wallets. A massive search operation was mounted, but because the area they were in, “Fish City,” is cruised nightly by tiger sharks, no remains or clues were ever found. (Lesson: don’t dive on a Sunday.)

Their parents had their day in court. The dive industry in Australia is a $50 million a year business and brings much-needed economy to some towns. The boat owner was acquitted of manslaughter, even though it took him 2 days to report them missing. According to the article linked above, they even claimed that the couple faked their own death, to “start over.” Classy!

The industry likes to compare how few diving deaths Australia has, and how safe diving is compared to getting struck by lightning. The fact is, there’s a simple solution to the moronic tragedy of leaving people in shark-infested waters: Write their fucking names down and do a roll call instead of counting people. What pissed me off about this article where the industry shill cries about possible losses is that he doesn’t talk about any improvements to procedures by members of the dive industry.

I won’t ruin the movie for you, but let’s just say that no helicopter swooped in to save the Lonergans, either. Open Water may not be about them, but it drives home the horror they must have felt. Some may find it boring, but I have a deep and abiding respect for the immensity of the ocean. I like to joke, “I ain’t afraid of heights, I’m afraid of depths!” If you fall off a building, you’ve got 10 exciting seconds to live. Out at sea… you’ve got a lot of waiting for that hideous undersea creature to start nibbling on you.

The movie is filmed completed without CG effects. They used shark experts constantly feeding the animals tuna to keep them from attacking anybody. You see them incredibly close to the actors or stunt doubles. Sharks are scary, but the sense of helplessness and regret is what overwhelms you here. Ebert compared it to the mountain-climbing documentary, Into the Void, which will appeal to those with fear of heights. If you’re agoraphobic, this is the one for you. After this movie, If you’re ever in a situation like this, you’ll be dropping the scuba tanks and swimming after those far-away boats, hollering the whole time.

What would you do?

RIP Stan Winston, bringing Terminators and Aliens to the Great Beyond

Sadly, special effects designer Stan Winston has passed into the great beyond. He was responsible for designing most of the most memorable robots, creatures and aliens from the 80’s onward.

Here’s a short list:

The Terminator trilogy
The Thing
Batman Returns
Edward Scissorhands
Interview with the Vampire
Big Fish
Galaxy Quest
Monster Squad

and finally, Iron Man.

His effects were the best- Terminator 2 being a prime example. Did you know when Arnold is getting shot to hell by the cops as he walks out of the elevator, that it’s a model? Crazy, I thought it was squibs or something. And Iron Man was such a perfect mix of CG and models that we’ll be pausing it on our HDTVs for hours trying to tell what’s which.

RIP, Mr. Winston. You scared the shit out of me and thrilled the hell out of me. Your talent will be missed.

The most expensive toy soldiers ever

If you ever painted toy soldiers or miniatures, you can make a fortune. Just be an established artist and make a huge sprawling diorama of them, and call it “Hell Art.”

Take me to ze strudel!

Dinos and Jake Chapman, two British brothers, sold theirs for several million pounds to a collector. They painted mostly Nazi soldiers and a lot of zombies, two subjects dear to the heart of internet nerdery. They also spent millions purchasing Hitler’s godawful watercolor paintings that look like Yellow Submarine meets Yard Sale Art Crap. They surrounded their exhibition with them to juxtapose the horrible kitsch of Adolf’s rainbow-encrusted landscapes and the vision of hell on earth he created, I guess.

“We have deep things to say about the banality of evil that haven’t been said before.”

Their miniature painting is actually quite good and full of humor. Zombies pull caravans of rusted Beetles, der Volks Wagen of course. Hell is populated with zombies from all walks of life, and even Stephen Hawking is in there. He’s still alive and probably typing a witty rejoinder to them as we speak.

Link to the CNN video that shows their work.

Hitler couldn’t paint for shit.

Charlton Heston succumbs to those damn dirty apes

Charlton Heston dies at age 84

Heston was one of my favorite actors. Everyone knows him from Planet of the Apes, and perhaps Ben-Hur or Moses, but he was always memorable. Even playing a Mexican police officer in Touch of Evil! With the Alzheimer’s, we can only hope that he didn’t suffer. I can’t imagine a worse fate, seeing your own mind go.

He had a memorable cameo in True Lies, and was an awesome villain as Cardinal Richelieu in the Musketeer trilogy in the 70’s. Add Soylent Green and the Omega Man, and he was in many of the iconic science fiction films of the 70’s as well.

Being an NRA member myself, I never held his presidency of the organization against him, and felt that Michael Moore was pretty disgusting in his treatment of him, and it was a sad end to a great career.

Major Dundee is being shown on Turner Classic Movies in an extended cut on April 8th, under their “starring Richard Harris” feature this month, but Heston was also in it, and it’s directed by Peckinpah. It’s hard to pass up Harris, Peckinpah, and Heston working together. I’ll be glued to the set. I’ll probably watch Planet of the Apes tonight in his honor. RIP, Charlton. I hope they bury you with that antique shotgun the NRA gave you, lest no gun-grabbing fat weasel like Moore pry it from your cold, dead hands.

Jules Dassin dead at 96

Oddly enough, a few days after Richard Widmark died, director Jules Dassin, who directed him in Night and the City, has followed him to the great beyond. Its disconcerting, whenever I don’t have something decent to blog about, someone dies and gives me material.

Dassin was fingered as a dirty commie pinko by snitch rat fink Edward Dymytrk (aka Mr. Mxyzptlk from the Superman comics) in the McCarthy era, and was blacklisted. He was Connecticut born, but moved to France after the blacklist and made it bigger than he ever did here. Good for you, Jules.

Time for a quick retrospective. He’s a somewhat forgotten director these days. Probably best known for Topkapi, Night and the City, Rififi, and The Naked City.

Topkapi is a caper film being remade; it’s a beautiful Technicolor film about stealing a priceless jewelled dagger. Lots of swinging from cables and foiling elaborate alarms and safeguards, it’s brilliant fun. It starred Melina Mercouri (Dassin’s tasty wife) and Maximillian Schell, with Peter Ustinov in a comic role. If you like a good thief movie, this is one of the better ones, so put aside Ocean’s 18 and rent this first. The remake will have Angelina Jolie and Pierce Brosnan, and is being helmed by Paul Verhoeven, so should be…. interesting. Sadly it is stupidly being named The Thomas Crown Affair 2. Maybe they’ll go as far as calling it the Topkapi Affair, which would at least give some credit to the original and still give them some franchise power.

Night and the City is a strong 50’s noir with Richard Widmark as a a tricky little weasel trying to make it big as a wrestling promoter. He’s one of those guys with schemes that never work out, a loser. He tries to bring back this old champ to a new fight, mixing it up with real underworld big shots, and well, things don’t go as planned. Gene Tierney is his long-suffering moll. This was also remade as a mediocre Robert De Niro flick, that is okay if you’re too lazy to grab the remote. The original is good noir and has some amusing old-style wrestling, too.

The Naked City is the godfather of all your CSI’s and your Law and Orders- the first solid police procedural that shot on location, and was serious about solving the crime and not concerned with dramatics. It has influenced every such movie or show ever since, and even spawned a TV show of the same name. It still holds up, and feels just like one of those shows. The story here begins with a model who apparently committed suicide in her high-rise apartment, but of course foul play is involved… and they follow every lead down to the ultimate suspect.

Probably his most lauded work is Rififi, which I have not yet seen- I have the Criterion DVD sitting on my self, so I imagine I’ll be watching that tonight. This is another heist film, a diamond grab. The famous sequence where they nab the loot is 32 minutes long and completely without dialogue, imitated ever since. I’m looking forward to watching it tonight, and I’ll add a review as a comment here. This is also being remade next year, with Al Pacino. No director attached yet. This could be hit or miss. Maybe Pacino will tone it done a little. I liked him recently in The Merchant of Venice, but I’d love to see him play against type for a change.

So go rent some of these and get some culture, you Philistines. Or just watch the remakes. Which of course, will probably suck.

RIP Jules, here’s to your fine directorial hand and your even finer taste in dames.