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Fat Fucking Fan Boy Harry Knowles

Before seeing Vanilla Sky, Harry says "The name Cameron Crowe...means, GOOD FILM! It means QUALITY! It means a new DVD to own!"

About Lord of the Rings "I believe I have just had the most perfect film experience in my life."

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This week:

Vanilla Sky

Filthy says:
"As profound as any other turd in the bowl!"

Fucking Internet.

Tonight, the snowflakes are as big as white mice, fluttering down and sticking where they land. They're piling up, muffling the street sounds, and I'm inside alone hating myself for wasting the past four hours. Mrs. Filthy went to her friend's craft party to make Christmas ornaments and fun of me. I assume that's what they do, but all she ever comes back with are ornaments. She gets invited to a lot of parties because people like her and she "doesn't make a scene" or "take stuff from the host's medicine cabinet."

This time of year, I get left at home a lot, and there's only so many times I can dig through my wife's stuff looking for hidden Christmas presents, or gifts intended for our niece and nephews that she knows I will open if I have the chance. I'm alone with the fucking Internet, and after four hours it's inevitable that I start thinking about ex-girlfriends.

I should be writing my God damn story because I want so fucking badly to be a writer, I want to create something so great that generations to come read the Cliff Notes version. Here's a piece of my story: Last night I dreamed I was a cowboy, riding a horse, roping calves and shit. Sleeping in a different bed. I look good in a white cowboy hat. All the other cowboys thought so and they treated me like a handsome man. My horse was the tallest, and I was the best-looking, until we met these Mexican banditos with paint horses and better pants. Instead of going from there to writing about my mother, I sat on my ass entering ex-girlfriends' names one by one into search engines, desperately looking for any link to these girls, or some sketch of their recent pasts. I wanted their e-mail addresses, but I didn't really. I was looking and half-hoping to find nothing; to find that my public record for indecent exposure makes me a bigger presence on the web than them. I sort of hoped they weren't happy because, while I don't want to marry lots of women, I want lots of women to wish they were married to me.

Some guys know what their old flames are up to because they stay "friends," exchanging insincere e-mails, Christmas cards and empty promises to visit each other. I never did, because I've always believed that any bridge worth crossing is also worth burning. But when it's late at night and I'm sober, alone and feeling sorry for myself, I wish I had been nicer. I wish I hadn't said all those terrible things and broken all that furniture that didn't belong to me. And I wish I didn't have to feel like a stalker just to get their e-mail addresses. But the fucking Internet makes it so easy to make bad choices now and feel terrible later.

I found their addresses, and I was going to write and say hello, I am not dead, I hope you didn't wish I was. Then, if they wrote back, I could tell them funny jokes that would blur their feelings about some of the shitty things I did and said. But if I did write, they would know I looked them up and they would think I was lonely and sad. And fuck them for thinking that because as far as they're concerned, it's not true. I'm a huge success and I was only writing out of generosity, to give them a small window to get back into my life. My life's a fucking rocket, headed for the stars, and I was going to give them a first class seat for the ride. But forget it now. I don't have time for them to pity me or put me in their "Block Sender" file.

I wrote and told them exactly that. I told them I knew what they were thinking and it wasn't true. I'm a winner and maybe it doesn't look like it now, but just you wait. And they'll wish they'd looked me up before I got famous and they just looked like opportunists by writing to me. I read them the fucking riot act, because I had their addresses, because they were so easy to get on the fucking Internet, because it's all so instantaneous that it's almost impossible to make the right decisions.

The fucking Internet.

I wish I had some cute way to tie the above story into my review of Vanilla Sky, but I don't. I didn't think that far in advance. Besides, I haven't really been inspired to think any more about it than I have to because it's an unbearably pretentious, overlong pile of horseshit: a long, boring drama about uninteresting characters that starts twisting long after I stopped caring.

Vanilla Sky is the remake of a Spanish film, only, it's been rewritten to fit the exact dimensions of Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise's egos. As a result, it's a more disgusting self-pleasuring exercise in masturbatory excess than the night I saw my first porno, Candy Bottom's "Night of the Cunter." The differences are 1) all I needed was a $2 jar of Vaseline while Director Cameron Crowe needed about $100 million worth of actors and hangers-on to get him off, 2) I was left feeling empty and sad and Cameron Crowe's ego is probably more pumped than an East German swimmer.

Cruise is David Aames, New York City playboy and heir to a publishing empire. The story tells us he's charismatic, and I suppose he is if you find an arrogant asshole who thinks he's the wittiest frat boy at Sigma Chi magnetic. His life is perfect: he fucks beautiful women, shows no signs of brilliance, doesn't work hard and has a really big apartment. His wonderfully shallow world is shattered by Penelope Cruz, his best friend's (the whiny Jason Lee) date and the most beautiful girl he's ever seen. They're immediate soul mates, and spend the night in her apartment exchanging caricatures of each other. Hell, if Cruz ever gets run out of Los Angeles for her boozing, she can work on any boardwalk because the movie makes her out as quite the caricaturist. In the morning, Cruise discovers that one of his fuck-buddies, Cameron Diaz, has been stalking him. She offers him a morning quickie, which he accepts, and soon she is in a jealous rage, driving her car off a bridge and killing herself.

Cruise is severely disfigured in the accident and, as a result, full of the self pity that the rest of experience every God damn day. In an attempt to get him back into life, Lee reunites him with Cruz. Soon, the doctor's find ways to repair his looks, and he retakes control of the publishing empire. That's when things get "weird," very self-consciously weird, and "way out there" and really fucking IMPORTANT! The story flashes back and forward, Cruise wears a rubber mask, confuses Diaz and Cruz. He is unsettled, trying to figure out what is real and what is fantasy in the shifting landscape. He's imprisoned for murder and counseled by psychologist Kurt Russell (talk about miscasting ­ but he does wear glasses to make him look smart). But Cruise doesn't know if he's murdered anyone.

Well, he's confused until the last half-hour, when it's all explained in one of the most tedious and annoying monologues to come squirting out of the bowels of Hollywood. The movie goes from being the story of an asshole we don't care about, to an unbelievable sci-fi and new-agey guided tour of the blurred line between dream and reality.

See, us dumbshits on the Great Plains are so fucking stupid that we have to be walked through it, step by step. It's all explained in excruciating detail so we won't walk out of the theater, scratch our heads and tell prospective customers it was too confusing. I guess Crowe thinks that we'll gladly be drenched in hot horseshit for two hours so long as he spends a half hour afterward explaining why.

If a movie wants to be IMPORTANT, it should say something. Vanilla Sky is like the Arvada Tavern Harelip when you make fun of her teeth after she's stone-drunk: it wants to say something, it makes all the gestures, but it can't think of anything. What's the fucking point and at what point were we supposed to care? It's just Crowe and Cruise thinking that looking smart is as good as being smart.

Vanilla Sky is supposed to play like a dream, but Crowe is too fucking busy showing off to make it feel like one. Dreams are fluid, and the most unusual things are juxtaposed effortlessly. You don't keep stopping to go "Whoa, this is so freaky! My mind is blown!" This movie does, though. It is choppy and abrupt and feels every moment like the result of overachievers. It's just an expensive, shiny movie full of POWERFUL ACTING and PROFOUND THOUGHTS and VIRTUOSTIC DIRECTING. It's about Cruise and Crowe first, and story second.

People rave about two things: Crowe's dialogue and his soundtracks. They both suck greasy genital warts. The dialogue sounds like Crowe talking to himself. He's comeup with some shit he thinks is clever, and he makes the characters repeat it without good reason. The result is stilted monologues rather than conversations. The soundtrack is shit. Crowe's musical choices are about as inventive as the playlist at your typical "modern rock" station. His soundtrack is a predictable melange of songs we've already heard played too loud over scenes that seem to be tailored for them rather than the story. There is nothing here that sounds new or inventive, and he doesn't dare to play music by anyone you've never heard of.

Tom Cruise wants to be an important actor so bad he could shit. You can tell, because that's way he looks for the entire movie. Like most status-hungry people stuck in the lower classes, he thinks trying harder compensates for talent. That may be true at a chicken processing plant. But in the movies, all of his straining just makes him look constipated. In his "charismatic" scenes, he smiles too much and works his jaw muscles like he's chewing gristle. In his scarred, self-pitying scenes, he tries so hard you can see his forehead muscles bulging. But, I'm sure his back-slapping chums at the Academy will take note that he plays a guy with Oscar-caliber facial disfiguration, and also wears a mask. How courageous of him to not only overact in his own face, but also overact under lots of makeup. That's the crap the Academy goes apeshit over.

Despite her nice tits on display, Penelope Cruz is a total waste. She doesn't quite understand English and she says her lines to please some unseen stranger who likes little girls. Maybe it's just that she's expected to stay back in the shadows while Cruise chews up scene after scene like a goat in an alfalfa field. Jason Lee puts in his usual whiny job. And Kurt Russell is too busy trying not to act to even register as the psychologist.

One Finger for Vanilla Sky. I'm sure Cruise and Crowe love it, and it's a movie they can jerk off to for years to come.

For those of you waiting for the end of A God Damn Love Story, here it is. I'm not exactly thrilled with the end. I mean, I like the very end, but the climax feels sort of corny. So, here's the deal, the person who suggests the best ending by December 31, wins a Star Wars II Poster. I have one and I don't want it, and this is the best idea I could think of to give it to someone who isn't a freaking Star Wars fan boy.

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