For Laughs: The Hearty Handclasp


This is from the movie The Bank Dick with W.C. (War Child) Fields. I remember seeing the hearty handclasp, shitting myself laughing, then praying with all the faith I could muster that it was on youtube so I could show my friends. Well, my friends, it’s on youtube. The whole movie is insane and funny, but the handclasp is just unbelievably bizarre. Whenever my friends and I have enjoyed some good fortune or really comported ourselves admirably, we offer up the hearty handclasp for congratulations. There is no finer expression of respect.


For Laughs: The Talking Dog I’ve Never Stopped Thinking About


Billy Madison is an important movie for people my age. It’s funny as shit and still funny, which is surprising. You’d think that we’d begin to hate it retroactively based on all the terrible crap that Adam Sandler does now, but somehow it holds up. Moments like the talking dog are why.

For Laughs: Bill Paxton, America’s Finest Actor


I like True Lies a lot, it’s enjoyable and I love Arnold. But what this movie has that his others don’t is Bill Paxton as used car salesman Simon. This scene features his famous “Dickless!” screamed while he’s eating a hot dog as well as a very questionable, some may even say downright disturbing assessment of Jamie Lee Curtis’ physical charms: “a pair of titties [that] make you want to stand up and beg for buttermilk. Ass like a ten year old boy!” Holy shit this is funny. I cannot believe the gusto on Paxton. I just wish that Simon was in every movie. Why wouldn’t Forrest Gump run into him somewhere? What if he sold the DeLorean to Doc Brown? It’s only natural that when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man get to Oz, Simon would be the man behind the curtain. Goddammit! If only Simon was in every movie! It’s not too much to ask.

The Passion of Malcolm Fucking Tucker

In the Loop (2009)   

    Every person I meet says I should watch Breaking Bad.  I’m in the drive-thru at Taco Bell and it goes something like this:

Drive Thru person: Will that be all?
Me: Yes, that’s all.
Drive thru person: Okay, your total is $5.33, please drive around to the second window and you  really should be watching Breaking Bad.
Me: I know, I’m so sorry.

But I’m not that sorry.  If I sit down to watch Breaking Bad, it’s 40 hours (my conservative estimate).  I know the show’s incredible, it’ll change my life, but I just don’t feel like devoting 40 hours to it, not right now.  If you watch Breaking Bad, you’re surely shaking your head, seeing me making a fool of myself by refusing to be saved and bathe myself in the blood of Walter White.  I don’t know what to say, maybe one day I will watch it.  It’s just those 40 hours are daunting.

    I was on Hulu the other day, just looking at all the offerings, and I saw that the tv show The Thick of It was recently added to their lineup.  I had heard of this British comedy show, and I wanted to watch it.  Well, what a heavenly delight when I saw that the first season of the show was comprised of only THREE EPISODES.  Man, I could really do this!  So I did.  The show is a frenetic, foul-mouthed comedy about the absurdities of working in Great Britain’s government.  The central character of The Thick of It is Malcolm Tucker, a snarling Scottish doberman who elevates the profanity-laced tirade to the level of high art.  I always took some amount of pride in my creative use of four letter words, but I know now that I am an amateur.  Compared to Malcolm Tucker, I’m merely scribbling on cave walls; he’s painting the Sistine ceiling.  So anyway, I enjoy the show, its episode total is manageable, and I found out that The Thick of It has a sort-of spinoff feature film called In the Loop.


Peter Capaldi  as Malcolm Tucker and Tony Soprano James Gandolfini as General Miller in In the Loop 

    I remember when In the Loop came out and seeing a trailer and not really thinking much of it other than, “hey, there’s James Gandolfini!”  The movie is like a longer, more ambitious episode of the television show, with political confusion and buffoonery in London, Washington D.C., and at the U.N.  Although some actors and characters have been shifted around, Malcolm Tucker is still stirring the shit storm, except this time he’s biting off heads on both sides of the Atlantic.  

    It’s hard for me to say why I enjoyed the movie so much, other than it’s like watching a really good episode of a show you like that happens to last an hour and 45 minutes.  The movie is certainly very different than most movies I like.  My tastes tend more towards movies with a deliberate pace (read: movies that bore some people).  The dialogue and plot of In the Loop move so quickly it’s an effort not to be left behind.  But the comedy is so dry, the wit so biting, and the profane insults so creative that I couldn’t help but love it.  Peter Capaldi, the man who plays Malcolm Tucker, is a huge favorite of mine just based on the show and the movie.  His performance is a treasure, and if you feel the need to spice up your vocabulary, there is no greater role model than Malcolm Tucker.

Great Trailers: Elevator to the Gallows (1957)


What makes this trailer good? Why is the movie so good? Both the movie and the trailer are well-paced and moody, suspenseful and exciting. The music is as good as it gets. Miles Davis improvising the soundtrack as he watched the movie is a great behind the scenes story. But there is one thing that lifts this movie (and trailer) above the level of mere “cool” and puts it in the realm of cinematic icons. The unforgettable Jeanne Moreau. She’s incredible. Every movie she’s in is instantly “a Jeanne Moreau movie.” It doesn’t matter who directed it, who costars, who wrote the script or did the soundtrack. If Jeanne Moreau is in the movie, it belongs to her. She’s all that matters. Always.

Great Trailers: Story of a Prostitute (1965)


Great Trailers: Story of a Prostitute (1965)

First, I’ve never seen this movie, so this is a pure trailer experience, not subject to the influence (whether positive or negative) of having seen the full feature. This trailer is badass. It’s Japanese so at times the whole screen seems filled with text and subtitles and can be a little bit overwhelming. But that is a bit cool. This trailer’s got it all, and then some: slow motion, a girl in photographic negative, passionate embraces, swords, slaps, a severed hand!, freeze frames, a bit of nudity, strong winds, and how about that tracking shot of the girl running through the battlefield. Wow! Very exciting trailer, so if I was in a theater seeing this I would definitely be coming back to watch Story of a Prostitute.

Alright, this entry in the Great Trailers series looks different than the others. It’s no big deal. You just have to click on the photo, then click the play button on the Criterion video. Make it full screen, who cares? There it goes. The youtube video of this was low quality without subtitles, not quite good enough.

Great Trailers: Bad Timing (1980)


Nicolas Roeg made some pretty wild movies, and Bad Timing is nuts, too. I mean, at one point, you see Art Garfunkel’s balls, so this movie is legit nuts. But other than that, it’s just another crazy “l’amour fou” tale of a man and a woman. Art Garfunkel is driven to madness/ creepiness by Theresa Russel. I really like this trailer though, there is a lot of nice music in it, starting with that spooky whatever the hell is going on right at the beginning. Then The Who plays as the girl tosses stuff out the window at the guy. How great! I like these parts a lot, but really, the best thing about the trailer is that chilling voice at the end. “Bad Timing. A terrifying love story.”