Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Sunday, Jun 13, 2010
If being innocuous were a crime, Gooby would cause Canada to reinstate the death penalty pronto.

When is a child’s imaginary friend NOT an imaginary friend? When it’s the star of Wilson Coneybeare’s woefully misguided coming of age comedy Gooby. Now, if you think that title sounds trite, or terrible, you haven’t seen this bad touch excuse for an ‘uplifting’ tale of believing in yourself and Great White North family values. Indeed, we have Canada to blame for this corrupt bit of kid vid dung, a drippy story about a young boy, a big move to a new house, and the lack of parental love and appreciate he gets from his way too upwardly mobile professional guardians. In order to compensate for the missing Mom and Pop affection, young Willy is visited by Gooby, the physical incarnation of a stuffed toy he played with as a youth. As you would anticipate, proposed warm and fuzzy life lessons ensue. What you don’t expect is how sappy, irritating, and downright creepy it often is.


You see, young Willy (the ‘so slap worthy he ought to patent his whining’ Matthew Knight) is quite the highly strung little boy - and to quote Fawlty Towers, he should be. Living in a fantasy world where his hyperactive imagination envisions aliens in the bushes, trolls in the teapot, and any number of hallucinogenic entities in the woodwork, he has developed a system of personal amulets and defense mechanisms to cope with his constant state of fear. The biggest of these is his comfortable old home - that is, until lawyer mom (Ingrid Kavelaars) and architect dad (David James Elliot) decide to uproot the brood and head out to the wooded suburbs of Toronto. There, Willy is so spastic, so caught up in a Don Knotts level of jitteriness, that it would take a miracle to get him through the day, let alone the dark and often stormy nights.


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Saturday, Jun 12, 2010
With dialogue that sounds like it was improvised, abandoned, and then half-remembered through a chronic-induced haze, acting which redefines the words ‘amateurish’, ‘dull’, and ‘ineffectual’ and a storytelling style that avoids logic, meaning, or clear character motivation, Killa Season is the worst kind of entertainment industry ego trip

They say everyone has a story - and, apparently, in the cutthroat world of hip hop, it’s Scarface. The obsession with Brian DePalma’s ultra-violent depiction of Miami in the early ‘80s continues to resonate with rappers in a way few other films could ever match - and the allure is as elusive as ever. Some claim it’s the ‘up by the bootstraps’ determination of Cuban refugee Tony Montana. Others argue over the ‘gansta’ elements of the character’s life. A few point to the drugs and debauchery. But what’s clear is that, for some reason, the fictional tale of a Fidel Castro’s least favorite son inspires almost every street poet in the game to take their own personal life and retrofit it into some manner of cinematic epic.


A good example? Cam’ron’s Odyssey in the making Killa Season. As with many in the urban music scene, the artist alternately known as Cameron Giles grew up tough. He excelled in sports (there are clips early on of his skills as a highly recruited basketball star) but then turned to ‘hustling’ as a way of making money. Soon, if we are to believe the bulky narrative that makes up this two-hour plus vanity project, he became one of the biggest dope dealers in Harlem, moving effortlessly from marijuana to heroin like the gateway given they are. Along the way, Cam’ron’s onscreen alias Flea eludes the authorities, watches his under-age niece get shot over some tacky jewelry and a Papa John’s pizza, argues street ethics with a toddler, busts multiple caps in a myriad of asses, and witnesses drug mules take a dump in order to retrieve their anally smuggled stash. Solid.


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Friday, Jun 11, 2010
By the end, when righteousness is battling the demonic for ultimate control of the cosmos, all we care about is how tenuous the lighting, acting, cinematography, and this film's grip on reality truly is.

They say God works in mysterious ways (and anyone whose sat through the Micheff Sisters vegetarian cooking exhibitions on the 3ABN Network can attest to that), but none have been more bizarre, more baffling in their sacrosanct ridiculousness than C Me Dance (yes, that’s the actual title). The faithful often accuse the secular of crapping all over their attempts to bring the Lord’s good word to the masses via moviemaking and other outlets - and with good damn reason. Most of these efforts are awful, pandering to an already converted contingent while completely locking out the individuals most in need of an inspirational message. After all, what does it say about Christian filmmaking that the most potent pro-JC missives come from Michael Tolkin’s brilliant end of times drama, The Rapture?


This hasn’t stopped writer/director/producer/star Greg Robbins from trying though. Lost in a world where the Messiah rides dinosaurs and the Big Boss Man hates homosexuals, he’s been responsible for a string of bizzaro world media entries, including the faith-based courtroom show Almighty Justice, the pro-God sitcom Pastor Greg, and the religious exercise program Professor Bounce’s Kid Fit. Of course, he realizes that such specialized programming is not going to reach out to the wealth of sinners wandering around the 5,000 year old planet, so he decided to ride the coattails of the urban dance genre, except without any interracial romance, any city setting, any real conflict, or any real talent. Thus was re-born the abysmal C Me Dance, a film about ballet, bribing the Lord, and taking on Beelzebub.


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Thursday, Jun 10, 2010
The overall awfulness of this fabulous disaster oozes from every misguided cinematic orifice like yellow matter custard from a dead dog's eye.

According to writer/director/concerned citizen-conspiracy theory crackpot James Nguyen, global warming, the continuing devastation of our natural resources, the unchecked rape of the world around us, and the lackadaisical reaction to our unfettered passion for fossil fuels, tagged to a continuing quest for material gain and capitalist control will lead to one horrific conclusion - deadly acidic bird shit. That’s right, as part of his prophetic warning to the people of planet Earth - Birdemic: Shock and Terror - our ecological ennui will result in avian adversaries who release a fatal stream of blinding bird feces, that is, when they’re not kamikaze dive bombing into gas stations and SUVs, or tearing out the throats of less than innocent bystanders. Apparently when eagles and vultures get pissed, they will target humanity for their terrifying twist on a “turkey” shoot.


Labeled a ‘romantic thriller’ by its creator, Birdemic begins by introducing us to upwardly mobile software salesman Rod (the robotic Alan Bagh). Closing million dollar deals with ease, he takes time off from his rise to the top to stop at a local diner. There, he meets suspect supermodel Nathalie (Whitney Moore) whose just landed a big gig with Victoria’s Secret. Soon, the two are dating, making cow eyes at each other and discussing - endlessly - what they want in the perfect mate. Rod continues to succeed at his job, so much so that when the company is bought for $1 billion (with a “B”), he takes his stock options and starts up his own solar panel concern. As things get more serious with Nathalie, the future is considered - again, endlessly.


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Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010
Clearly crafted as a wake-up call to all the nasty "normals" out there, it substitutes schmaltz for sincerity to create a heated hate crime all its own.

The plight of ‘little people’ - dwarves for those who need a more technical term - used to be an unspoken predicament in supposedly polite society. Few ventured to guess about the turmoil and troubles of those hampered by diminutive size and their surrounding medical/psychological issues. Instead, they chalked their life up to a ‘sad until the circus comes to town’ mentality and propped them up as punchlines in their own private prejudice. As with any other disability, dwarfism is easily misunderstood and frequently mocked - and it hasn’t helped that cable channels like TLC have used the biological anomaly as the means of exploiting the ratings ripe visual of seeing a tiny chocolatier covered in his own product (it’s even ickier than it sounds). Into this battle between virtuous intention and Verne Troyer comes Tiptoes. Clearly crafted as a wake-up call to all the nasty “normals” out there, it substitutes schmaltz for sincerity to create a heated hate crime all its own. 


Steven (Matthew McConaughey) is a firefighting instructor. He is in love with and engaged to the beautiful bohemian artist Carol (Kate Beckinsale - who you can tell is an oddball because she has red tint at the edges of her hairdo and sports a sassy silent movie actress tattoo). When he finds out she is pregnant with their child, it instantly causes chaos. You see, Steven has been hiding a pretty big secret from his lady love, and he’s not sure how she will react: he is a twin, and his brother Rolfe (Gary Oldman in Elephant Man weird make-up) is a dwarf. In fact, his whole family are dwarves, with Steven the only “regular” relative among an extended group of mini-kinfolk. Naturally, he is afraid that he will pass on the pint-sized genes to his offspring, and this causes massive concern. Still, our couple eventually marries, and after the baby is born, Steven has a crisis of conscience. Luckily, Carol has Rolfe and his collection of halfling heroes to help her understand the turmoil her man is going through - as well as the benefits of going “small.”


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