Machete: Ugly, horribly pock-marked senior citizen hispanic character actor Danny Trejo makes out with a nude Lindsay Lohan in this fairly amusing splatter satire of border politics. Decapitations, mutilations and other assorted mayhems soak the viewer from first-to-last frame in this triple-cross tale of former Federale-turned-day-laborer Trejo’s battle against corrupt US and Mexican officials, and a Mexican drug lord (played by washed-up gringo martial arts *star* Steven Seagal in campy brown-face). This is 21st century Walking Tall, Billy Jack stuff, meaning it’s full of blood-drenched laughs and de rigueur gratuitous nudity. Curiously for a flick this over-the-top, the acting is surprisingly flat, and not up to the cynical black comic script--with the notable exception of Jeff Fahey, who shines as an ultra-Machiavelian political fixer. Robert De Niro looks hopelessly lost playing a trigger happy Texas state senator--the former Raging Bull looks like an old Jew codger stuck alone and forgotten in the corner at a tasteless, hyper-carnal bat mitzvah party. Despite the poor acting, Machete manages low entertainment, as it feeds our 21st century appetite for junk culture, demanding nothing more from the viewer than our need to have 105 minutes of our empty lives cinema-graphically killed. This isn’t much, but it’s infinitely preferable to:
A Single Man: Set in early ‘60s Los Angeles, a melancholy UK faggot pouts for 99 minutes over the death of his long-time *partner.* We watch as the glum middle-aged English English professor (played by a bland limey with the bland limey name Colin Firth, who apparently just won an Academy Award for a more recent bland performance) makes his meticulous and rather prissy plans for suicide--though the yawning viewer knows full well the homo will never do him the merciful courtesy of following through. . .and yes, in this film’s ped-ictable and queer-jerker script, the poof professor’s will to live is restored by the completely carnal charms of a pretty blonde boy student who is positively desperate to *explore* his inner Freddie Mercury. Whereas Machete was a tolerable waste of time and will be regarded as an honest cultural artifact of our age, A Single Man is nothing more than a dreary offering to the priests of the cult of gay who hood-twink our sexually indiscriminate century. [Julianne Moore, who has done nothing since flashing her red beard in Short Cuts, is absurdly cast and ridiculously plays a limey slut aching to be poked one last time by the ex-bi, now total boylover drama queen *hero* of this drop-the-soap opera.] [We must also note the crudely propagandistic use of supermodel Aline Weber, cast as a Bardot-like icon of female sexuality reduced to tag-along platonic friend of the pretty blonde boy student in this film’s *alternative* universe. The gorgeous Weber is presented as a near-deaf-and-dumb dummy in this bizarre movie, a mannekin lacking even the plastic charms of a sex doll, so lifeless the pretty blonde boy student prefers to commit sodomy with a cranky old poncy professor. This is cinema for abberants.] In contrast to the pseudo-suicidal tendencies of A Single Man, we have:
Bad Santa: Apparently released way back in 2003, I just now got around to watching this holiday masterpiece which features a remarkable performance from Billy Bob Thornton as a self-loathing low-life seasonal shopping mall Santa/safecracker. Thornton’s Santa is one of the great drunks of screen history--a bitter, gutter-dwelling loser painstakingly (and rendered in unrelenting black humor) engineering his own death. Empty save for psychic torment, our bad Santa staggers bleary-eyed and hungover through the holiday season, half-listening to the mass-marketed pleas of the freshly-scrubbed plastic children of mall AmerICKa whom he rushes off his lap as he bides his drunken time until he and his colored dwarf *elf* partner can rob the department store of just enough cash to keep him alcohol brain-dead until the next Christmas. The greatness of Bad Santa is the dark script stays true to its comically bleak soul while still serving up a small helping of holiday redemption. Bad Santa’s heart grows a size or two larger while he grudgingly aids the one person in the world possibly more tortured than himself: a pathetic, picked-on, semi-deranged fat boy living in near-total neglect. Bad Santa is a spot-on sardonic character study of the empty AmerICKan soul, and I can’t imagine many other actors capable of pulling off the performance Thornton gives. He never winks at the camera, as most *movie stars* would. He remains true to his character’s sick soul, and allows the black humor of the script to arise not from any *comic acting,* but from his deadpan delivery of his disturbingly funny clashes with the supposedly healthy AmerICKan mall automatons who cross his path (or his lap). After sixty years of ever-increasing AmerICKan degeneracy, Bad Santa emerges as the true heir to It’s A Wonderful Life.
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