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This week:

Filthy says:
"Shit ain't art, blood ain't art, but blood on shit...

The last time I got trapped in a room for this long with bad actors was when a well-meaning Arvada city council promoted its "Drama Not Booze" program with a community-theater production of "Waiting for Godot" at the Arvada Tavern. There was the cognitive dissonance of seeing the fat guy from K-Mart's rifle counter playing Estragon, but worse was the fake tree they planted on a pool table before they started shouting out lines about "nothing to do" and "we don't know him very well." Luckily, the evening was cut short when Worm walked in and the Harelip yelled, "You guys can shut the fuck up now; Godot's here." Then, just to make sure, she busted a pool cue over Pozzo's head. I heard that at the Attitude Lounge they shot Sky Masterson in the shin, and the "Drama Not Booze" program was canceled.

Now that I think about it, that was a pretty fucking good night of theater. Saw isn't. It's supposed to be a thriller/horror movie but it ain't nearly as scary as it is just gory. Loads of blood, body parts and squeamish shit. But there aren't any jolts or thrills in it. Just a Rube Goldberg plot that makes no sense when considered, and a standard-issue post-Silence of the Lambs chase ending where a sloppy screenwriter tries too fucking hard to tie all the pieces together into a neat little package.

Saw announces its high concept as loudly and quickly as the Harelip declares her farts. To its credit, Saw doesn't stand up, point to its ass and say, "Hello, Doctor!" In it, a whiny punk (writer Leigh Whannell) wakes up in a filthy, industrial bathroom, chained to a pipe. So is a self-absorbed doctor (Cary Elwes) on the other side of the room. In the middle is a corpse, lying face down in a pool of blood with a pistol in one hand and tape recorder in the other. It's a game set up by a serial killer. This killer tells Elwes he must kill Whannell or his wife and child will die. There's a puzzle for Elwes and Whannell to solve, and if they do, maybe they won't die. Or so the plot pretends very briefly before forgetting that in pursuit of its ridiculous ending. There's a backstory, too, where Elwes was once a suspect (of course) in this killer's previous murders. And while Elwes doesn't know Whannell, the opposite isn't true, despite pretending.

Meanwhile, a sadly slumming Danny Glover plays the requisite obsessed cop who, of course, will solve the crime at almost exactly the same time the killer is about to off the people we've been forced to watch for 100 minutes. Glover's scenes play in flashback and simultaneous to the bathroom drama. In other words, the movie is a cocksure mixture of a bunch of other movies, all were better, but they weren't all necessarily good. It mimics the grime and gore of Seven, apes the devious killer of Silence of the Lambs and plagiarizes the heightened suspicions from the claustrophobic setting of just about any cabin-in-the-mountains horror movie.

Plotwise, the movie sucks because it's way more concerned with setting up these Byzantine, TV-Batman style killing machines than it is making any sense of why. So, each murder plays out like a vignette designed more for maximum goriness than for plot. A fat guy has to crawl through razor wire and a junkie has to dig into the guts of a sedated man to find a key. Why? Because some hack screenwriter thought it's be cool. No other reason is as believable.

The movie is so relentless in its efforts to be creepy because it's dingy, but it's like a bad Xerox of a movie with actual tone. The bathroom is how you'd imagine the one in the apartment of a stringy meth junkie who poors oil into his Plymouth in the Pep Boys parking lot. Whannell's character apparently has the same interior decorator do his apartment: an underlit, dilapidated shithole. And, just to make sure we all understand how gritty this movie is, the rich doctor played by Elwes also lives in a shitty, crumbly, poorly-lit apartment. Glover. The cop, does too. His precinct needs light too. It gets really fucking old. I say, give us a little diversity and maybe make the movie more interesting if you want us to buy its authenticity.

Blood flows as easy as ant spray at the Tavern, but in a really squeamish, sickening way. It isn't scary in any fun way, just unpleasant and incessant, like a four-year old showing you his scab. There is no art to being gruesome or dingy, really. Anybody with enough money can make gore and darkness. The art, to me, is doing something with it.

Elwes and Whannell do more screaming and whining than you'll hear when menopause descends upon those awful women who wear purple dresses and red hats. Neither is a good actor, but Elwes certainly does more over-the-top hamming. Good God, the guy can't read a line without twisting his face up, pausing dramatically over every word and then finally screaming. Whannell wrote the script, so it's amazing how uncomfortable he looks speaking it's more cheesy lines.

Saw is also one of those movies where every character is just there to do what he's told. At one point, Whannell is in his blacked-out apartment and he knows an intruder is also there. He's freaked out so that we can be, but, with the front door behind him and the boogeyman trapped in the closet in front, he chooses not to leave but to open the closet. What the fuck? Who in their right mind would do that? Only a shitheaded screenwriter would. In that situation, most people would have a simple two step plan: 1. crap pants. 2. run like hell out the front door.

The plot moves on bits this arbitrary. The killer is never revealed purposely so the movie can have a switcheroo ending. But, meanwhile, it insures that he's never a character and we can't appreciate or understand his motive. It just makes the movie feel like we're watching rats in a maze. Other nonsense includes the part where Glover is able to solve the crime at just the right moment, and, most bizarrely, find the hidden bathroom by chasing another pawn of the game to it. But, give it any thought and you realize there is no fucking way that pawn could, with a bullet in his leg and panicked out of his mind, drive all the way across town and know exactly where the shithole pissroom he's never been to or seen in person is.

It's a shit movie, fake and disgusting and insulting. Fuck Saw.

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Jim Ferguson of KGUN TV

"If you liked The Ring you're going to love The Grudge!"

Jude Law in Alfie is "A magnificent performance! Law is Alfie!"

Filthy's Reading
Robertson Davies - The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks

Listening to
Tom Waits - Real Gone


Young Frankenstein