March 01, 2006

Crazy Alex Jackson's Running Scared Rant





Here you see stills of Atari 2600s "Custer's Revenge" circa 1980 and the recently retired sex game on the website of Running Scared. I ask you friends, is that progress? Twenty five years and it seems that the creators of the Running Scared minigame have made few advancements. I have no idea what the hell that is, but it ain't the female form.

The Running Scared game is chillingly unerotic. First of all; I don't have anything against the act of cunnilinigus per se, but the idea of having the protagonist have to race home to eat out his wife (you can run out of time getting there and thus "fail" at your mission) is powerfully emasculating, reminding of those cuckold stories you read on alt.sex.stories. There is no possible way that the game could be any less threatening. Secondly, the game play is atrocious. The entire game as a whole is really little more but a crummy Grand Theft Auto clone. Load times are painful, controls are jagged, the visuals are blocky. I hesitate to say that porn loses its utility when it's this hard to access as that would rule out the great Ganguro Girl Deluxe where the build up is more titiliating then the payoff, but I can't imagine that driving around in a shitty GTA clone is anybody's idea of foreplay. The actual sex game laughably uses that virtual dancing format where you have to press the right keys at the right time as they drift down your screen. Fatally, when you play the erotic video game in Running Scared you realize how desperate and pathetic you are for playing an erotic video game.

Still, the indignation of conservative media watchdog group National Institute on Media and the Family is enough to set my teeth on edge. I'm an equal opportunity offender mind you, I hate all media watchdog groups-- ADL, NAACP, NOW, GLAAD, CCRL; all those groups trying to regulate the marketplace of ideas. That just seems so adamantly anti-intellectual. Actually, those groups probably piss me off even more. Who the hell knows what a black, a gay, a woman, or even a Catholic or a Jew is anyway? Could the negative portrayals, on some level, reflect or even inform something identifying in the culture? At least you get the impression that the sense of morality that NIMF is protecting is concretely, if somewhat arbitrarily, defined. Eh, I'm going off on a dangerous tangent.

Running Scared the movie, by the way, is kind of hilarious. Just in case you haven't heard already. It would be churlish of me to spoil it's surprises for you, but it's the kind of film that could have only been made by filmmakers with no moral limits and no sense of good taste. I have no idea what my favorite girly-girl Stephanie Zacharek was babbling about when she condemned the film for being self-serious and too high and mighty to give us cheap, sick, thrills for their own sake. I could not detect any message, intended or not, in Running Scared. It's all cheap, sick, thrills for their own sake.

The film is genuinely, and honestly, so bad it's good. They seem to have made it with fairly serious attentions but the thing ran away from them. However I will admit that the pleasures in taking an ironic stance toward it are kind of shallow ones. The film is good for a laugh but it soon evaporates into thin air and that's kind of disturbing for a film with this subject matter. There are degrees of camp and irony and truth be told Running Scared is pretty rudimentary. It's not as sophisticated as Final Destination 3 and that's the one I would recommend you seeing in theaters. On DVD, at the dollar theaters, or premium cable or something you know, you should give this thing a look. I smell cult classic all over it.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your wife just came her fucking brains out! (Now go wash your mouth out with booze)

Brilliant.

Did everyone catch the huge attention the hidden, inaccessible Hot Coffee minigame in GTA: San Andreas got? A hysterical turn of events when the country is up in arms over the fact that when little Johnny plays his cop-killing, drug dealing, hooker murdering game, he might be able to take part in consensual sex with one of his character's girlfriends.

Bill C said...

Aw man, I can't believe it got shut down, mostly because they surely must've steeled themselves for a backlash in advance. I think you're onto a new word, though, Alex: Atarilingus.

Sean Fitzpatrick said...

Missed "the most woeful or unfortunate celebrity enorsements" topic Walter brought up last week. If you haven't seen it, you must check out the video of poor, drunk Orson Welles shilling for Paul Masson wine here: www.viceland.com/issues/v9n4/htdocs/touching.php

Pretty sad. Also funny.

Dave Gibson said...

Since Alex is still auditioning for FOX News, I suppose mentioning that the NAACP, GLAAD and NOW are not solely "media watchdog groups" is pointless, right?

Alex Jackson said...
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Chad Evan said...

Seems to me that all Alex is doing is pointing out how the religious right doesn't own the patent on anti-intellectualism and ideology-induced blindness, and he's right, as the recent experiences of an Ivy League president indicate. How many people here would immediately cry foul if a peer-reviewed, impeccably researched study concluded that, say, global warming is not of human origin, or homosexuality is a matter of upbringing rather than biology? Remember when people were incensed when pharmaceutical firms pointed out that some drugs affect people of different races variably?
The thing is, we on the anti-Bush side of the equation need to rise above this sort of thing and take a stand for intellectual freedom and the free exchange of ideas. Calling Alex a FOX News applicant for pointing out the monomania of special-interest groups strikes me as not unlike those who used to accuse those who supported civil rights as being secret commies.

Dave Gibson said...

"Seems to me that all Alex is doing is pointing out how the religious right doesn't own the patent on anti-intellectualism and ideology-induced blindness."

Well, that’s an interesting (if patently obvious) point—and, one that I agree with. The problem is that isn’t what Alex said. He said: “I hate all media-watchdog groups” and then, with similar, reductive ease, offered a list of the organizations allegedly falling into the category—which is, of course, a gross distortion and oversimplification of the work those organizations do. This is not to say that any of these groups are infallible or not ripe for criticism but rounding them all up and saying that you “hate” them doesn’t exactly inspire this intellectual discourse that is allegedly being defended. “Who the hell knows what a black, a gay, a woman, or even a Catholic or a Jew is anyway?” A lot of people do. A lot of those people don’t agree with each other. Why not talk to them?

Ian Pugh said...
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Ian Pugh said...

Something I somehow find even more confusing than the actual game Custer's Revenge is its cover art. (Warning: Hairy, naked, cartoon Custer.) How does this at all reflect "Swedish Erotica"? Or erotica at all, for that matter?

Now, I'm a firm believer in the idea that art has to push the boundaries of good taste and social constraints to move forward: real pain, real disgust and real disenchantment do not censor themselves. But it is when such concepts are performed self-consciously that the idea is moot. The comparison of the Running Scared game to GTA is a palpable one in this respect; the GTA series seems like a natural progression of the whole video-game-as-cinema concept, applied to the gangster picture in their various incarnations. What does the Running Scared game offer? A man performing cunnilingus on a woman. That's it. Something you're not really supposed to discuss/show in public, but it adds nothing to the conversation. (If I'm not mistaken, that picture of the game has a box of parody laundry detergent in the background which reads "Ride." Ho ho! Clever!)

Also compare classic episodes of South Park to Comedy Central's latest hit Drawn Together. As I've said here before, Drawn Together has one of the most dynamite premises on television today (eight cartoon characters from different genres and mediums in a faux-reality show) but its jokes are proudly lowest common denominator. This series is entirely for a reaction in and of itself: If you say the word "gay" enough, or include enough broad racial stereotypes, will you be funny? "South Park" already answered that by repeating the word "shit" hundreds of times over and showing how little that meant.

It can be applied to a hundred different concepts in a hundred different art forms. Date Movie comes to mind.

Alex Jackson said...

Yeah, wish I could get here sooner. I was attacking the media watchdog departments of those groups of course not as much the organizations as a whole, wasn't slick enough to clarify that. I have no problem with fighting for social services, to protect abortion, and to legitimize gay marriage; and I know that these organizations work to accomplish things like that.

But I completely, categorically, and with no exception hate all attempts to regulate the marketplace of ideas no matter what those groups are.

Just stuff like throwing a fit when a silent movie theater in Los Angeles wants to show Birth of a Nation. Or the fact that it's so damn hard for me to see a subtitled version of the The Eternal Jew. It's not economically feasible for that film to be released by an actual distributor? Yeah, but I blame organizations like the ADL for helping to make it that way and closing down all possible discussion on the subject.

If I could get to rent The Eternal Jew on Netflix, well that would be a pretty hard fucking blow against that theory that the Jews own the media wouldn't it?

Dave Gibson said...

Well, again...AJ, you're being far too vague. Define: "Regulate the Marketplace of Ideas". None of the groups you mentioned are regulatory groups. Please offer some specific examples. If you're talking about advocacy,that's a different story and it's not the same as "regulating" anything. I don't know what dark motives you're hinting at regarding the scarcity of a seventy-year old Nazi propaganda film and, I think it's sad that you're including it in this so-called "marketplace of ideas"--but, again, no one's "regulating" anything-- If you want to get a copy of that movie (or many others of its ilk), I'd wager it will take you all of three minutes on the web to do so.

Alex Jackson said...

“Who the hell knows what a black, a gay, a woman, or even a Catholic or a Jew is anyway?” A lot of people do. A lot of those people don’t agree with each other. Why not talk to them?

Some of those people who define what a Jew is are anti-Semites and if I am to have a clear multi-angled idea of what a Jew is, then it is necessary for me to hear their side of it in their own words and combine that definition with all the other existing definitions to develop a more rounded, more Truthful, definition.

Locating Nazi propoganda isn't quite as easy as you think. I'm going to have to lower my standards and get the English-dubbed version of Eternal Jew. That's the only one I can find. Essentially what I want is the film to be released with subtitles (some semblance of neutrality) and have three seperate audio commentaries by a Neo-Nazi leader, a Jewish religious leader, and a film scholar or historian.

Has the ADL regulated the marketplace of ideas? Putting pressure on PETA (who I disagree with politically, but whose lack of "good taste" and reluctance to prevent something like staged depictions of animal abuse (animal being hurt= bad; just looks like animal being hurt=not bad) in the media has earned them my admiration) to retire their ads connecting the Holocaust with the killing of animals for food; that bothers me. Arguing about whether or not they have a valid point is what this all about, but in this situation I get the feeling that the ADL feels that they should have never made the connection between the two. THAT is what I mean by regulating the marketplace of ideas and I think that THAT is stringently anti-intellectual.

Still, I have to say the ADL website does show anti-Semetic cartoons printed in Arabic anti-Israel countries. I wouldn't have seen these images otherwise and I'm very grateful that I'm getting the perspective of the other side on the issue. Elsewhere I see that even in condemning them, they're giving the other side their say.

NAACP, yeah, I probably should have left them out of it. I don't see media watchdogism there. I think that time has bled it out and they're focusing on actual issues.

I think that GLAAD may be the very worst of the worst.

GLAAD out and out states on their website:

When media images of our lives are fair, accurate and inclusive, we find ourselves increasingly welcomed into a society that respects difference. When they're not -- when stereotypes and misinformation pollute the well of cultural acceptance -- we become vulnerable to anti-gay forces working to create a world in which we do not exist.

Everyday our stories -- yours, mine, those of our families and friends -- open the truth of our lives to the people we share them with. In the same way, when the media tell our stories well, people in small towns, big cities and everywhere in-between find a window on our lives that broadens and deepens their understanding of who we are. Same principle -- infinitely larger scale.

Fair, accurate and inclusive media images shatter stereotypes. They prove that we are connected through common, human experiences. These are stories that we -- and the media -- have a responsibility to share.


Jesus Christ.... All of it, we need all of it in the media! We need prissy fags and we need three-dimensional human beings who just happen to be gay! Stereotypes are not synonymous with untruths, the Truth is all-inclusive of all perceptions towards homosexuals! You can't begin to say what a homosexual is not until you have concretely defined what a homosexual is and I don't see that as having been accomplished.

NOW? I think like with the NAACP the longer these organizations have been around the more they concentrate on real, solvable issues. But certainly, they're bad in the same way; seeking to fight (and by implication I feel repress) media representations that view women in ways that don't line up with their rigid (but poorly-thought or established) definition. I'm looking at their page evaluating the Super Bowl ads from a while back.

It's especially problematic in that, if we can make the distinction, gender perhaps much stickier and less concretely defined than any race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious group.

Do I have to go into the CCRL?

Nate said...

Still, the indignation of conservative media watchdog group National Institute on Media and the Family is enough to set my teeth on edge. I'm an equal opportunity offender mind you, I hate all media watchdog groups-- ADL, NAACP, NOW, GLAAD, CCRL; all those groups trying to regulate the marketplace of ideas.

This is such fierce intellectual bullshit, it actually makes me angry. It's the kind of thing that only a straight, white, intelligent, liberal male could actually say and believe, which makes it the most dangerous kind of self-indulgence. I assure you, Alex, the vast majority of gays, women, Jews, and blacks are pretty fucking happy that those so-called "idea regulators" are out there, because - and this might be a shock to you - the Religious Right has all the advantages and infinitely more malice. I understand the temptation to spin these delicate ideological intricacies at your computer, but your intellectual house of cards has absolutely no bearing in world we live in. "Dangerous tangent" indeed.

Nate

Nate said...

Jesus Christ.... All of it, we need all of it in the media! We need prissy fags and we need three-dimensional human beings who just happen to be gay! Stereotypes are not synonymous with untruths, the Truth is all-inclusive of all perceptions towards homosexuals!

Man, you just don't get it. The reason gay people have any fair portrayal in the media is BECAUSE of groups like GLAAD. The "prissy fag" stereotype you glibly refer to is pretty damaging to those of us who just want to live in this country and not be fucked with constantly by our government, and yet that's historically been the only kind of gay person visible in the short amount of time that gay people HAVE been visible.

What I'm saying, Alex, is that it's really easy to whine about GLAAD wanting to eliminate the negative stereotypes because there are all kinds of gay people in the world (and you're right, there are), but when the media focuses on the small contingent of gay people who are promiscuous AIDS-baiting whores, the Religious Right uses those portrayals to further their causes, which are far more devastating to me and my "husband" and our friends than GLAAD's so-called offenses are to you.

Chad Evan said...

Nate:
I'd wager that the "vast majority" of women don't really pay any attention to NOW at all. And blacks don't have a whole lot to fear from the religious right--they tend to be economic rather than social liberals and as a group (I know I'm genaralising here, but that's what this thread is about) are at least as homophobic and misogynistic (at least the men among them) as the dreaded white males.

Nate said...

Chad-

You're right - I was talking mostly about GLAAD, since that's the organization that directly affects me. Didn't mean to generalize about the other groups.

Nate

Chad Evan said...

Nate:
Props for being civilized; sorry if I came across as a smug bastard there.

Nate said...

You mean the "dreaded white males" thing? I'm always a little bit surprised when white, heterosexual men are threatened by people who point out the simple fact that the vast majority of "oppressors" are, in fact, white, heterosexual men. It's just a statement of fact - nothing personal. That said, even though I’m gay, I’m sure have it easier than most racial minorities simply because I’m white and male.

Chad Evan said...

Nate:
Do you mean on a national or international level? And what oppressed group are you referring to? Being one of those white heterosexual males you are talking about, I'll try to explain some of the defensiveness that puzzles you.

In your earlier post, you lumped together blacks, Jews, women and gays as oppressed groups in opposition to white, male, heterosexual Christians (or at least evangelicals, which, being a mainline Protestant, saves me from being a four-for-four oppressor(but you can say I'm a Southerner and throw that in as well.) Now the reason this irks me is that, while you can certainly use blacks as an example of a group we have been uniquely terrible to, there is absolutely nothing uniquely terrible about our treatment of gays and women; not saying we haven't been horrible, but not exceptional in comparison to blacks, Asians, Arabs, or what have you. So when you refer to this coalition, it seems to me you are inventing a convenient boogeyman, as if a group of white heterosexual men had a meeting and said "Now how can we keep the niggers, queers and bitches in their place?" This connection between racism on the one hand and misogyny and homophobia on the other is not that strong and women and gays would have plenty to worry about even if every white male on the planet suddenly dropped dead.

Nate said...

Being one of those white heterosexual males you are talking about...

Actually, you're clearly not one of the ones I'm talking about, which is why you can spare me the defensive sarcasm (it isn't helping your argument). I'm talking about people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell and a good percentage of upper-class baby-boomer men (like my own father), whose biases are so deep and pervasive that they don't even understand the degree to which their collective unconscious oppresses people. I'm not claiming that I'm oppressed in the same way that racial minorities or women are oppressed, just that ultimately we're oppressed by roughly the same people for roughly the same reason - we're not like them, and we can never be like them.

What continues to puzzle me is why so many people like you automatically assume that, because the vast majority of the people who oppress these groups are heterosexual white men, I'm talking specifically about YOU. I never said that every straight white man is responsible for the shit I've had to deal with in my life. From your insanely defensive tone, I can wager a safe guess that you have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be a marginalized individual in this country. You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but you might consider being a little less reactionary about mine.

One more thing:

women and gays would have plenty to worry about even if every white male on the planet suddenly dropped dead

What, pray tell, might that be? PMS and AIDS?

Chad Evan said...

Nate:
Whoa, whoa, whoa: I was not intending any sarcasm in the above post. When I said "one of those...you talked about," I was referring to being opressive, I was referring to being defensive.


As for the sarcastic comment at the end (pot, kettle, black;)Do you really believe that homophobia and misogyny would dissapear from the earth if white men did so? Where would you rather live, Nate, Nigeria or Sweden?

Chad Evan said...

Correction: that should read "Iwas NOT referring to being oppressive, I was..."

Nate said...

Chad-

I think you were being sarcastic with the "Southerner" comment; if that wasn't sarcasm, you must not think very highly of individuals from your region.

I'm sure you know how useless the Nigeria/Sweden argument is - that people in Nigeria might be "homophobic" (if that term even applies) is a small symptom in a much larger social problem, of which I know very little and am not qualified to discuss in any detail. I'm talking specifically about this country, which I think is pretty obvious if you consider that gay marriage is legal in Canada, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and several other European countries.

Do you really believe that homophobia and misogyny would dissapear from the earth if white men did so?

Of course not - to suggest so would be asinine. What I believe is that a particularly influential group of straight, white men inadvertantly created homophobia and misogyny, and it spread like wildfire. Gays can be homophobic (most are, actually), and women can be misogynistic (ditto, to a lesser degree), but that's only because they constantly have people telling them, in various creative ways, how worthless they are.

That said, things are much better than they were even fifteen years ago, but the recent turn of events in the Supreme Court doesn't leave me with much optimism.

Anonymous said...

Ok doke. Anyway, it's been a good week here, as far as I'm concerned - Walter, your review of Night Watch is perfect, it absolutely nails it, not only why the damn thing sucks ass, but why idiots all over are falling for it; the kid's production attitude to the crappy movie just because it's a) not American made and b) the highest grossing Russian film ever, and because as part of an "epic trilogy" (Can you imagine sitting through 9 of these films?!) any plot holes (the entire thing IS a plot hole - the Calvinball reference is genius) are forgiveable because they'll be explained in, what, a future movie? Everything will be cleared up in a later installment? Hooray, it's like Lost! We'll love shit now because in the future, there will be Cliff Notes and explanations. Yeah, no. I look forward to not watching any more of this Russian vampire tripe.

Also loved this short write-up by Alex and I'm really keen to see this movie now, stupid Australian release dates. And, also on the plus side, Ebert only reviewed two movies this week and he almost had the audacity to call Night Watch as it is - almost. His two stars is much more than it deserves.

Next week, The Hills Have Eyes - been hearing some really nasty reports on this one. The violence and grue might be one up on everything else we've seen recently, particularly regarding reports of sexual violence. Following up from High Tension, I'm intrigued as to what Aja can do with Craven's aged flick, and apparently Craven himself was taken aback by the intensity of the remake. Can't wait to see this one myself.

Anyone watching or care about 24? I can't imagine how anyone, at all, can take a conservative reading from this show. It's all (reasonably) smart, Liberal ideas thrown into the pot, as the master terrorist anti-terrorist plan backfires and we have a disaster on our hands as a result of waging war for oil. Alternatively, you could take a Conservative reading with the notion that President Logan is such a piece of shit that he makes Dubya look almost tolerable by comparison. Almost.

Alex Jackson said...

Anyone watching or care about 24? I can't imagine how anyone, at all, can take a conservative reading from this show. It's all (reasonably) smart, Liberal ideas thrown into the pot, as the master terrorist anti-terrorist plan backfires and we have a disaster on our hands as a result of waging war for oil. Alternatively, you could take a Conservative reading with the notion that President Logan is such a piece of shit that he makes Dubya look almost tolerable by comparison. Almost.

Ha! I was actually going to post about 24 on it's season premier but never followed through.

I'd say it's aggressively right wing. Particularly in the last season where they were about to give into the demands of the Arabic terrorists but all they wanted, and they pretty said this, was to kill Americans. The show did little to explore the reasons behind their dissatisfaction. It doesn't matter to them.

They also get a lawyer to protect an important witness from torture, saying that it violates his client's constitutional rights. Time and time again CTU tramples over the Constitution, but we as the audience, having seen how far terrorism has infiltrated the United States, don't much mind. We get to hating the lawyers that are impeding the work of our hero Jack Bauer. What's creepy about their sattelite cameras that can watch us wherever we go, is that we feel glad that they have resources like that to rely on.

24 is also a show that regards the color coded terror alert without irony and where all the characters watch the Fox News Channel.

Some have regarded the fact that the show has a black president as being indicative of it's liberal viewpoint. Utter bullshit. Maybe thirty years ago, but if you actually listen to conservatives you'll see that they pride themselves on not being able to see color. They simply don't believe in black culture. That's how they justify their attacks on affirmitive actions. Many conservatives would welcome a black president, that seems pretty clear to me.

Anyway, the show might have moved a bit to the left in refocusing attention on the military industrial complex and making the new president a wuss that's controlled by a Dick Cheney look alike; but yeah I thought it was pretty far right last season.

Chris said...

I suppose you could aruge that season four was 24's "right-most", but I can't see the show as anything but liberal.

The show's racial conscience extends far, far deeper than having a black president (though that was, I'd say, kind of a great thing - especially when his race had nothing to do with the assassination attempts). In the two seasons featuring Arab terrorists, they have always carefully woven in Arab characters fighting on the side of Good (the British agent in season two, and the gun store owners in season four). And also I think those sub-plots were pretty damn well-written.

And the only reason they watch the Fox News Channel is because it's a Fox show. They don't, like, *plug* it.

Alex Jackson said...

I think the inclusion of the British agent and the gun store owners is actually reflective of conservative attitudes toward race. The message is that Arabs are more than welcome to come to our country as long as they assimilate. The fact that these two Arab gun shop owners protect their gun store and want to fight the terrorists for making them the target of attacks following September 11th suggests to me that they've adopted good old fashioned American values.

Also in season four, a family of terrorists immigrates to America but the son turns on them. Why? Because he's spent some much time in his host country that he's become an American and fallen away from The Cause.

It's funny, while not every Arab in the show is a terrorist pretty much every liberal in the show enables terrorism.

Vikram said...

I saw Running Scared last week and I laughed my ass of leaving the theatre. It's a movie that has to be seen to be believed. The word to best describe it might be hysterical - in every sense. It's the outcome of what happens when incompetence collides with dementedness (if that's a word).

tmhoover said...

Yep, "Running Scared" is indeed hilarious- it's the only movie where the hero is tortured by hockey players dealing slap shots. I actually shudder to think what would have happened if a competent director (i.e., not Wayne Kramer) had directed it, because it's largely offensive right across the board. But in his incapable hands the stereotypes become ridiculous cartoons, and there's a white mack daddy pimp with a suit that must be seen to be believed. Don't even get me started on the pedophile serial killers, I may never stop laughing.

Walter_Chaw said...

By the way - just to be on record, I haven't watched a minute of the Oscars and before the night is through, I wanted to say that I think that Crash will win the Oscar.

Yep.

Disclaimer: I'm bad at this.

Walter_Chaw said...

Ha ha - oh holy shit. I've apparently lost a whole day in there. Save that previous post for this time tomorrow night.

Sheesh. That's enough 'shrooms for this little black duck.

Alex Jackson said...

Yep, "Running Scared" is indeed hilarious- it's the only movie where the hero is tortured by hockey players dealing slap shots. I actually shudder to think what would have happened if a competent director (i.e., not Wayne Kramer) had directed it, because it's largely offensive right across the board. But in his incapable hands the stereotypes become ridiculous cartoons, and there's a white mack daddy pimp with a suit that must be seen to be believed. Don't even get me started on the pedophile serial killers, I may never stop laughing.

I might be taking "incompetence" too literally as much of the film's inanity seems to be in the script (also written by Kramer) and not as much in the way that it's realized. It was Kramer after all, that wrote the immortal line "I'm a mack daddy pimp and I'm gonna kick your ass!" And it was Kramer's script that put in the child molesters, the hockey torture, and the lest-we-forget Russian meth dealer who's obsessed with the John Wayne film The Cowboys.

I don't know, when I hear the word "incompetence" being thrown around in regards to the direction I look at the editing, cinematography, continuity et cetera. Performances maybe, but so much of that relies on the script. Hard to act well with shitty material. And hard to direct well with shitty material, a lot of what's "bad" in the film seems to be just faithful to the script.

Still, the score gets a south-of-the-border beat when the Latina hooker-of-gold takes the abused kid in, and it goes sing-songy when the child killers are on screen. Ultimately, we can blame the director for that.

Carl Walker said...

Hard to act well with shitty material.

Alex, I'm inclined to agree with you on this one, but I wonder what other people have to say about this matter. A friend of mine, who tends to be far more critical of actors than I am, also tends to praise good performances in bad movies, but I have generally been unable to notice this... and I think I tend to overlook not-entirely-perfect performances in good movies (with some exceptions). So, to everyone else, can you do good acting in a bad movie? It's either a really dumb simple question, or a fascinating complicated one, not sure which!

Bill C said...

Oh I think you can act well in a bad movie, since nobody sets out to make a bad movie per se. I love all kinds of performances in lesser films, like Ian Tracey in Lola (the Canadian one), John Marley in Love Story, James Woods in The Specialist, Natalie Portman in Beautiful Girls, Robert De Niro in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain... I'm sure better examples will occur to me as soon as I hit Login and Publish, but really, I don't know of any other way to watch movies but to compartmentalize, for lack of a better word. Case in point: I just saw Derailed, which is indeed awful, but it has relative peaks and valleys, individual scenes that work. They don't necessarily redeem the film, but they stand out, and to deny them would seem reductive.

tmhoover said...

Just to clear things up: I was in no danger of regarding the screenplay of "Running Scared" as good. What I meant was that though the attitudes in the script were just this shy of reprehensible, the crazed, over-the-top direction (with its incessant digital transitions and total inability to suggest naturalistic action) made its appeal to craven instincts impossible to take seriously. Hence my enjoyment of what might otherwise have been unwatchable.

By "unwatchable", by the way, take a look at "Madea's Family Reunion", which is inept, badly written and offensive on a completely different level. Front runner for worst movie of the year.

Alex Jackson said...

I agree with Bill's pick of James Woods in the Specialist. Tearing apart Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain is more difficult for me, but yeah I think that his performance in itself is better than the film as a whole.

Strangely enough the Best Picture nominees seem to be filled with examples of good actors in bad movies. I couldn't seperate Phillip Seymour Hoffman from Capote. It's just not a very good movie and I just couldn't get anything out of him in it. Of course though, Walter wrote a very glowing review of his performance in that film while dismissing the film itself.

I liked Crash, but yeah Haggis' technique seemed to have these broadly realized characters and have them do contradictory things in an attempt to imitate complexity on a microcosmic human level. He hasn't done the work into explaining the characters and so the actors; in particularly Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, and Ryan Phillipe have to fill in the holes. None of the film's detractors have really targeted their acting, they might be upset that they were seduced into being in the movie, but they have sympathy for how hard they're working in this thing.

James Allen said...

8:10et before the first Dick Cheney joke (I set the over/under with my friend at 2 minutes in.)

Otherwise, Jon's pretty funny, actually. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Jefferson said...

Did Will Smith just make a joke about Thai sex slavery?

James Allen said...

A good quip by Stewart: "For those of you keeping score: Martin Scorcese, zero Oscars; Three 6 Mafia, one."

Did a song called "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" really win an Oscar?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman just won, I see. Yet another imitation wins an acting award. Rich Little is sitting in a living room somewhere, insanely jealous.

James Allen said...

OK, the end is near. What will win? I firmly thought Brokeback Mountain was the ever so obvious winner, but as the evening progresses I have a feeling the envelope might open and I'll hear the word Crash.

James Allen said...

Nevermind, Lee wins directing, Brokeback's gonna win.

James Allen said...

Christ, I spoke too soon. Crash it is. Geeze.

rachel said...

*crucifies a pony*


...yup, that pretty much sums up how I'm feelin'. Crash, damn.

Chris said...

Are people still reading this thread? If you need a great performance in an awful movie, watch Richard Jenkins in Rumor Has It... - if you can get through enough of the film to see the scene in the kitchen towards the end, you'll see what I mean.

Bill C said...

Oh man, haven't had the pleasure, but I do know that Richard Jenkins always gives the best performance in whatever he piece of crap he's in to pay his mortgage. (See: The Mod Squad, Say It Isn't So, Random Hearts...) He's even the best thing about Huckabees, which is a saying a lot considering the caliber of that cast. Tim Blake Nelson sings his praises on the commentary track for Eye of God.

Kirk said...

Running Scared, as crazy and weird as it was, does give the movie-lover one great chance to heckle: There's a line where Karel Roden is talking about The Duke, and after the the young boy's reply, you'll have enough time to yell out "THE HELL HE WAS!!!" if you know your Repo Man quotes.