Category Archives: movies

The Beaver Trilogy Part IV


My apologies for the tardiness of this post.  Yes, I realize no one was waiting for me to write this.

I saw a really wonderful film called The Beaver Trilogy Part IV at the Midwest Independent Film Festival.  Let me back up.

It was probably 10 years ago or so when I saw the movie The Beaver Trilogy.  I have no recollection how I learned about it or the local screening I attended.  Maybe it was a Critic’s Choice in the Chicago Reader at the time?  It was a free screening, and wasn’t at a movie theater.  I saw the movie at Columbia College, in downtown Chicago.

I had no expectations.  It is a strange movie.  It contains three short movies tied together, hence the “trilogy” of the title.  The first part is a documentary about “Groovin’ Gary”.  The next two movies are fictionalized retellings of the first, along with scenes that would be considered “behind-the-scenes” of the first part.

It’s on YouTube.  Pleeeeeease watch it.  It’s wonderful.


Okay, have you watched it?  Pretty amazing, huh?

I know there is a “wow” factor for the 2nd and 3rd parts of the movie, in that the respective leads in each movie would go on to become famous for other roles.  Sure, that’s cool.  But what struck me so much was what I felt when I watched it.  I felt so much empathy for Groovin’ Gary.  He was goofy, but genuine, ambitious, naive, sincere.

You don’t get the full story of Groovin’ Gary, at least not directly from him.  The 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy have an event which takes place that may or may not be fiction.  Did it happen?  One strong impression that I got from this movie was that the filmmaker was a little haunted by his brief encounter with Gary.  There was self-criticism and empathy from him in equal measure.

I only watched The Beaver Trilogy one time, but it stayed with me, for years.

Okay, so I used to volunteer a lot at the Midwest Film Festival.  It’s on the first Tuesday of every month, showing films having some kind of midwestern connection.  I thought I’d volunteer for the April screening.  HOWEVER, I learned that something called “The Beaver Trilogy Part IV” would be playing.  Whoa!  I learned later it had played Sundance the year prior, but this was the first time I was aware of it.  I HAD TO SEE IT.  Maybe I’d get some of the questions I had answered!

I learned when I got to the theater that the director of the original Trilogy, Trent Harris, had not directed Part IV.  I was a little bummed, but hopeful.  What unfolded in Part IV was both a heartfelt tribute to the original Beaver Trilogy, to the original Groovin’ Gary (real name Richard Griffiths), and to Trilogy’s filmmaker Trent Harris himself. It was a great, affectionate, warm movie.  I loved it.  I had my questions answered, and I was so glad I got to see it.

The film’s director, Brad Besser, actually flew in for the screening. I was able to talk to him afterwards.  He was gracious and friendly, and it was obvious this was a movie he made with all his heart.  Also, I learned from him, it was likely he who was partially responsible for the original Beaver Trilogy movie being screened at Columbia College — he was a student of Columbia at the time, and pushed hard for a screening of the film.  He wanted other people to see it.

So thanks, Mr. Besser, for showing me the first Trilogy, and double-triple-quadruple thanks for making Part IV.  THANK YOU.

I don’t know if I can throw any traffic Mr. Besser’s way, but please,  order the movie and watch it. It’s on VOD, it’s on iTunes.  Besser, Trent Harris, and most of all, Groovin’ Gary, deserve it.

Trailer for Part IV:  There is a link to buy the movie on  YouTube.  You can also search for the film on iTunes and purchase it there.



Mulholland Drive, The Diner Scene – Why Is It So Mesmerizing?

I saw David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive a couple months ago.  The film is rather long at a running time of 147 minutes.  I liked it as a whole, but it didn’t stick with me.

Well, this one scene stuck with me.  It’s a scene set in a diner, and occurs about 10 minutes into the movie.  It’s somewhat of a self-contained short film within the larger film.  You don’t really need to know anything about what precedes or follows it. The scene features two characters that don’t figure prominently in the plot (one shows up in a cameo later — if the other one shows up, I missed it).

The movie was available via Netflix Streaming, and I found myself watching the diner scene again and again.  Sadly, the film isn’t available to stream any more, though some kind soul has uploaded the scene in its entirety to YouTube Vimeo.

Here, watch it (my apologies for the poor quality – there was a nice clip of this on Vimeo that has since been taken down):

Why does this scene resonate so much with me?  There are strange things about it.  Dan, the dark-haired man, seems to vacilliate between naturalistic acting and a more stilted line delivery.  It’s hypnotic.  Also, note how the camera doesn’t stay still during what could be a very static, stereotypical two-person dialogue scene.  The camera seems to be handheld, and actually is very slightly raising and lowering, hovering during the scene.

By the time they leave the diner to see if “the  man” is back behind the alley, the tension is already ratcheted up to a high level.  The scene takes mundane things and somehow makes them terrifying.  The pay phone, the taped-up back door spooks Dan because of its familiarity to him, and we are spooked in the process because Dan is spooked.

The use of sound contributes to the scene.  Dan says something to his friend as they leave the diner, but you can’t hear him.  When “the man” appears, the sound gets incredibly loud, then becomes muffled as Dan collapses.

Hell, I’m describing WHAT happens, but I don’t know HOW it happens.  I don’t know why this scene is so riveting to me.

Thoughts? Does it affect you?  If so, why?


Here’s a snippet of the script for this scene, taken from  LynchNet:

I think the movie improves upon the script (for example, showing Dan didn’t eat his breakfast right before they leave the diner, rather than have Herb announce that Dan is not hungry).


Two well-dressed men HERB and DAN (mid 30's) are sitting at a
table drinking coffee. Herb has finished eating his
breakfast, but Dan hasn't touched his bacon and eggs - he
appears too nervous to eat. A blonde waitress with a
nameplate saying "DIANE" lays the check on their table
smiles, then walks off.

		Why did you want to go to breakfast if
		you're not hungry?

		I just wanted to come here.

		To Denny's? I wasn't going to say
		anything, but why Denny's?

		This Denny's.

		Okay. Why this Denny's?

		It's kind of embarrassing but,

		Go ahead.

		I had a dream about this place.

		Oh boy.

		You see what I mean...

		Okay, so you had a dream about this
		place. Tell me.

		Well ... it's the second one I've had, but
		they were both the same......they start
		out that I'm in here but it's not day or
		night. It's kinda half night, but it
		looks just like this except for the
		light, but I'm scared like I can't tell
		ya. Of all people you're standing right
		over there by that counter. You're in
		both dreams and you're scared. I get
		even more frightened when I see how
		afraid you are and then I realize what it
		is - there's a back of this
		place. He's the one ... he's the one
		that's doing it. I can see him through
		the wall. I can see his face and I hope
		I never see that face ever outside a

Herb stares at Dan to see if he will continue. Dan looks
around nervously, then stares at his uneaten food.

				DAN (cont'd)
		That's it.

		So, you came to see if he's out there?

		To get rid of this god-awful feeling.

		Right then.

Herb gets up, picks up the bill and goes to the cashier to
pay. Dan just sits.

As Herb is paying the bill he looks over at Dan just as Dan
is turning to look at him. From Dan's point of view Herb is
standing in exactly the same spot as he stood in the dream.
Herb gets a strange feeling, turns back and finishes up with
the cashier. He motions for Dan to follow him. Dan rises
reluctantly and he and Herb make their way outside.

							CUT TO:


Now Herb waits for Dan to lead the way.

		Around here.

Dan takes Herb across the front of Denny's to a narrow
sidewalk that leads down the side toward the back.

They begin walking down the narrow sidewalk - past a
payphone. Dan begins to sweat the nearer he gets to the rear
corner of the building. Red bricks glide by slowly.


Beads of sweat cover his face. He finds it difficult to
breathe. Herb is just behind him unable to see the fear
overtaking his friend, but Herb can feel something himself.

The red bricks moving by now are coming to an end - the
corner is coming closer - the corner is now very close.

Suddenly a man - a face ... a face dark and bum-like- moves
quickly out from behind the corner and stops - freezes -
staring into Dan's eyes.

Dan lurches back. All his breath is suddenly gone. He falls
back into Herb who tries to catch him as he's falling. Dan
hits the ground unable to breathe - his eyes wide with

Herb looks up - the man is gone. He looks down to Dan.

		Dan! ... Dan! You all right? ... Dan!

He kneels down and studies his friend. He feels for a pulse
in the neck. He listens for breathing. His friend is dead.

				HERB (cont'd)
		My God!

Couples Retweet

I only have to work Monday this week, so the rest of my time leading up to Thanksgiving can be devoted to developing my eight-pack abs and watching shitty movies.

Okay, watching shitty movies.

What were my choices?

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – Nope!

This Is It – I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but thank you.

Where The Wild Things Are – I was all excited about this until I realized it was not in fact a sequel to The Wild Life.

Couples Retreat – LET’S GO.

I got the great idea of live-tweeting my moviewatching experience. I sat near the back of the theater and got my phone and my typing fingers ready.

Sadly, during the film I realized that to properly live-tweet a movie, you have to be sitting in the VERY back row of the theater. Unless, of course, you don’t mind getting repeatedly punched in the back of the head by people who for some reason don’t like the life-giving glow of your mobile phone.

Regardless of this, I’m going to let my Tweets stand as a review of this film. Enjoy!

7:10pm – Live-tweeting Couples Retreat in a cheap theater. GO

7:10pm – It is only me & 4 annoying teens here.

7:11pm – Wait! A “couple” just walked in.

7:11pm – Bob Marley’s Legend on the sound system.

7:12pm – Another couple-

7:12pm – I have always loved “Stir It Up”. Genuinely.

7:13pm – Movie is supposed to start at 7:15pm.

7:13pm – This is kind of like live-tweeting Crank 2, except not really.

7:14pm – I hope I anger no one. I’m a sweetheart.

7:15pm – lights out

9:12pm – Sorry, somebody sat behind me. It was shittt

9:12pm – shitty

Law Abiding Shitizen

Ahhhhhh! How long has it been since I reviewed a movie? TOO LONG.

What were my choices?

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs – No thanks, I’ve eaten and been rained on!

Couples Retreat – This would be awful, I do not doubt. Still, no.

(500) Days Of Summer – I wouldn’t mind seeing this. However, I would be afraid if I said anything negative about the movie, I would make Zooey Deschanel sad. And that, my friends, is too much burden for me to bear.

Law Abiding Citizen – YES! YES! YES!

So, I roll into LaGrange in my fashionable cobalt station-wagon. Christmas lights have been strung in the village of LaGrange, and the town is a prematurely winter wonderland.

How about those mediocre-looking pics, huh? I took them with my FUCKING PHONE! Hello, 21st Century!

So, the LaGrange is really not the friendly, very slightly grimy theater I toiled away in as the Two Buck Schmuck. They have done some quite lovely renovations. Okay, I’ll admit it. Things are different.

Remodeled lobby, with ticket enforcers

Remodeled hallway

Some restored frescoes. Yeah, fucking frescoes!

New inside theater marquee

The Bob Seger Theater was largely unaffected by the renovation. Except, instead of playing Bob Seger tonight before the movie they were playing the Temptations.

The movie choices are better now. I mean, they played the latest Hayao Miyazaki film here, for Christ’s sake. Do you know how hard it was for me to find a boilerplate revenge drama with suspect philosophical underpinnings? It wasn’t easy.

Okay, to the movie! So, Gerard Butler is this loving dad whose wife and child are killed in the first few minutes of the movie (pre-credits, even!). He spends the rest of the movie punishing the rest of the world for not properly serving up justice to the guys that killed them. I’m not sure if it was cut out in the version I watched, but the movie seemed to be missing that hilarious scene with the vibrating panties.

I knew absolutely nothing about the movie going in, so it was kind of nice wondering where it was going. It wasn’t obvious at first, at least. We flash-forward ten years and see the two thugs that did the killings die — one gets death by lethal injection (a very painful one, thanks to that sneaky Gerard), the other gets gradually amputated to death (also by Gerard). Gerard likes his justice served gradually!

Oh, Jamie Foxx is actually the star of the movie. He’s was Gerard’s lawyer. He is a hotshot lawyer. He didn’t do right by Gerard, so this movie is pretty much geared to teach Jamie Foxx that the only true way to justice is to gradually cut someone’s limbs off.

Gerard lets himself get caught, and then engineers a whole lot of mayhem from within his prison cell. Oh, before I forget, there was a “Hello, ladies!” moment in the movie. So, Gerard pretty much leads the police to himself. For whatever reason, as he is waiting for them, he strips completely down, giving the viewer a nice backside view. As he is taken from his house in custody, he is shirtless but in jeans. What the fuck? They make him put on pants, but they say, “No, a shirt will not be necessary.” I was hoping he would wink at the camera in his shirtless glory, but I guess they did not want to break the fourth wall.

So, most of the movie is just him killing lawyers and shit.

Oh, you end up finding what Gerard does (or did) for a living. He was basically a genius guy that worked for the government, figuring out ways to kill people. He was essentially an assassin. Now, the whole point of the movie, the whole motivation for his character killing all these people, is that justice was not done when his wife and child were killed. The movie *completely* misses any of the irony, that this self-righteous douchebag would in his job routinely kill people extrajudicially. The movie is totally on his side, too. The movie is like Se7en, except you are being asked to sympathize with Kevin Spacey. Yeah, man! Put Gywneth Paltrow’s head in that box!!!

Anyways, Jamie Foxx finally figures out one of Gerard’s plans, to blow up the mayor with a homemade napalm bomb. So, please bear with me — Foxx takes the bomb to Gerard’s solitary confinement cell, which Gerard is not in because he left through a tunnel he made years before being arrested to allow him to move freely from the jail to the outside world. Foxx hides the bomb in Gerard’s cell and waits for him. Gerard eventually makes it back, Foxx asks him not to detonate the napalm bomb (via a cellphone call) to kill the mayor, and Gerard says sorry, and detonates it. Then Gerard realizes the bomb is in his bed as Foxx hightails it out of the cell and locks the special fancy door Gerard built. The napalm bomb explodes, in a prison, a FULLY-POPULATED prison, mind you, killing Gerard and probably a whole lot of other inmates. Then, Jamie Foxx goes to watch his daughter play in a cello recital.

So, Jamie Foxx has learned some valuable lessons in this movie. One, you can blow bombs up in prison, and two, really, see your daughter’s recitals. They’re only young once!

Name That Face: Round 2 Prizes


@dpressman gets the Pee Wee Herman watch!
@glitterlips24k gets the Giants & Toys DVD!
@wolfsothern gets The Portable Frank!
@artichoked gets the Big Boy bank!
@keithwade gets Samwise Gamgee!


I thought I would get in front of Round 2 of my Twitter game Name That Face, and have the prizes all picked out before the round actually starts (on Monday, July 13th, by the way).

Just as in Round 1, the five highest point-earners will be awarded prizes.

The highest point-earner gets to choose a prize out of the five available. The next highest point-winner will choose from the four remaining prizes, etc. until the 5th place winner has to take the last remaining prize. Yes, the world is a cruel, cruel place.

Anyways, here are the prizes for Round 2, in no particular order of monetary value or coolness.

A Big Boy bank!

An action figure of the sexiest halfling this side of Rivendell, Samwise Gamgee!

The Portable Frank, a collection of stories from the wonderful Jim Woodring!

Giants And Toys, a very nifty Japanese movie from the 1950’s about the cutthroat world of the candy business!

A Pee Wee Herman watch!

Thanks a lot for playing. I hope to see you Monday!

Name That Face: Round 1 Prizes


The winners have chosen their prizes.

@debenham gets the Mr. T rubber stamp!
@johndstearns gets the crab robot!
@ajonathancox gets the autographed 8×10 of Jim Belushi!
@SamuraiFrog gets the DVD of On The Right Track!
@keithwade gets the Hitchcock Truffaut book!

Winners, please email me at the address listed on my profile to tell me where to send your well-earned booty.




So, the first round of Name That Face has been up and running for a while, but as June ends, so too shall Round 1.

The five highest point-earners will be awarded prizes. I thought of what I think is a neat way of giving the prizes out.

The highest point-earner gets to choose a prize out of the five available. The next highest point-winner will choose from the four remaining prizes, and so on, until the fifth highest point-winner hopefully likes whatever crap the other four people didn’t want.

Anyways, here are the prizes for Round 1, in no particular order.

A DVD of the famous Gary-Coleman-lives-in-a-train-locker dramedy On The Right Track! I saw this about a bejillion times when I was a kid, and imagine it still retains the whimsy I faintly remember.

A signed 8×10 of Jim Belushi! It has a few scuff marks, which you might be able to see from the scan. Note: I did not personally obtain this autograph — I bought it at a collectible store near my house. I’m wagering it’s authentic, as I do not know why someone would attempt to fake a Jim Belushi signature.

A wonderful book, consisting of interviews of Alfred Hitchcock conducted by fellow director François Truffaut.

A crab robot. It’s pretty cool. What does it have to do with faces? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Cut out all the paperwork jibber-jabber with this stylish Mr. T rubber stamp!

I’ll probably take a break (and give Twitter followers a little break as well) for a week or so after Round 1, then I guess I’ll crank up Round 2. I was planning on resetting everyone’s points back to zero for the next round to even the playing field. I’ll still keep the tally of Round 1 for posterity’s sake (assuming that anything related to Twitter should have posterity).

Okay, thanks a lot for playing.

P.S. For people unable to get into the top five, I do have web-based complimentary awards that are available for the taking.


The LaGrange has now resumed normal operating hours, which has made it easier to indulge in my affections for the second-run cinema.

I had some time Friday night, so I decided to hoppity hop hop on over.

What were my choices?

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – Just the words “Matthew McConaughey” are enough to cause painful boils to erupt on my body (yes, boils just erupted on my body after I typed his name). I can’t handle a whole movie of that lazy, doe-eyed sack of meat.

I Love You, Man – I’m kind of sick of bromance movies, even if this turns out to be the Citizen Kane of bromance movies (or even The Magnificent Ambersons of bromance movies).

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Hmmmm. Tempting.

Obsessed – Holy shit, get out of my way! I’m going to see Obsessed!

I just knew a little about the movie. Beyoncé is in it and she may or may not get into a catfight with Ali Larter, which was enough for me. It seemed like it might be a nice trashy, sorta dumb movie, the kind that I enjoy on the cheap.

I get to the theatre and see that most of the renovations are complete. Some of the architecture of the original theater is now exposed, which has some nice details, including some paintings I didn’t look too closely at. The previously bad amateur art that adorned the walls of Theater 3 is now gone, replaced by tasteful curtains. I arrived kind of late, with previews already in progress, so I cannot tell you whether the music of Bob Seger plays before the lights go down (one can only hope).

The ticketing situation is a little funky. There are a couple registers in the front of the inside of the building, which isn’t really conducive to retarded patrons (such as myself) efficiently forming lines. We sort of draped out across the carpeting inside the front doors, hindering both the entrance and exit of dissatisfied/soon-to-be-dissatisfied moviegoers.

The prices had been increased from $3.50 to $5.50. I had known the price increase was coming, but I had forgotten that it was going to be $5.50. I had $2.00 in my wallet and a large jangly pile of quarters in my right pocket. I had enough.

But, it pisses me off. They are fucking with my name. I was Two Buck Schmuck. Then they raised the price to $3.50. Three Buck Fifty Schmuck sounds horrible. Now, Five Buck Schmuck sounds perfectly fine. Hell, even SIX Buck Schmuck sounds nice. But Five Buck Fifty Schmuck? It sounds like a fucking Van Halen album. I DON’T LIKE IT.

They fixed up the concession stand a bit. I was running late so I didn’t take any time to peruse it, but I saw that 1) they have nachos now, and 2) they still are using the RC Cola. If you want some reporting on concessions in a future review, please let me know, and give me some money for snacks.

So, Obsessed. It was kind of boring. The mysterious Idris Elba (mysterious because I don’t know who he is) plays an absolutely perfect husband. I just looked at his IMDB. Hey, he’s Stringer Bell from The Wire! I just started watching that show. Did you know that my TV watching habits have no place in a movie review? It’s true!

Anyways, Elba is rich, he’s thoughtful, he’s faithful, he sends flowers to Beyoncé EVERY FUCKING MONDAY. Annoying, isn’t he? We learn that Beyoncé met Elba when she was temping in the office. So, Ali Larter is now a new temp and has she got it bad for Elba.

Elba’s best friend at work (of course played by the radiant Jerry O’Connell), upon learning she is a temp, retorts, “yeah, she’s a tempTRESS.” ZING!!!

So, Ali comes on to Elba several times, she tries to kill herself, blah blah blah. Elba keeps this from Beyoncé, which he shouldn’t have done, because it’s fucking Beyoncé, right? Nobody puts Beyoncé in the corner.

Anywho, Beyoncé finally finds out about the crazy tempTRESS and kicks Elba out of the house for three months (which really makes no sense unless Beyoncé says it makes sense). They eventually reconcile and then Ali starts fucking with both Beyoncé and Elba, etc.

The thing is, the tempTRESS is never even remotely threatening. She’s not scary, she’s not anything. Even in the final catfight with Beyoncé (yes, there is one!), Ali spends most of the time just trying to get away.

The movie did an interesting shift once Beyoncé becomes aware of the tempTRESS. Elba, who was heavily featured in the first half of the film, falls further and further into the background.

At the end of the movie, when Beyoncé emerges from the catfight largely unscathed, and Elba runs up to hold her, we freeze frame on Beyoncé in the husband’s arms. The funny thing was, we don’t even see his full face. The frame literally cuts off the top half of his head (and you can see by the poster above he barely manages to keep his eyes in frame there).

It’s all about Beyoncé, folks. It’s all about Beyoncé!

Seeing as the prices just got raised, I felt compelled to sneak into the 9:15pm showing of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, already in progress. I saw a fair amount of mutanty action, including the stupid Gambit. There was a guy Deadpool, who a comic book nerd told me they completely fucked up in the movie. There was one cool part where he got decapitated while shooting Cyclopsy lasers from his eyes, which entertainingly demolished a tower at Three Mile Island. And Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth was okay.

I skipped out before the end, because Wolverine started getting teary-eyed with a woman who had betrayed him. I don’t know if the filmmakers know this, but nobody puts Wolverine in the corner.


Muvico, The Theater Chain For Swingers

So, this weekend MizSplotchy and I went to see the new Sam Raimi movie Drag Me To Hell.

We ended up going up to Rosemont to the Muvico 18 Theater, a palatial looking newish building that is quite visible from I-294.

It was nice to go to a chain that I hadn’t been to before. I tend to build up resentment for a given movie chain if I see too many movies at their theaters (hello, Kerasotes!).

The experience was enjoyable enough, minus the fucking obligatory commercials that we moviegoers are forced to endure. The movie itself was a lot of fun, and I’m really glad that we went out to see it.

The thing I liked most about our moviegoing experience was the Muvico logo:

Wow, the anthropomorphized film reel is really giving it to the star, isn’t it?


Movie Quote Quiz For A Doodle!


Here’s a movie quote quiz. The person who gets the most answers right first gets to suggest a doodle idea that I will doodle.

No Googling the answers, please.

01. “Three of a kind, let’s do this!”

02. “Nothing. No matches on prints, DNA, dental. Clothing is custom, no labels. Nothing in his pockets but knives and lint.”

03. “If we don’t deal with this now, soon little, uh, Gambol here won’t be able to get a nickel for his grandma.”

04. “Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me!”

05. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it.”

06. “You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.”

07. “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

08. “Well, you look nervous. Is it the scars? You want to know how I got ’em?”

09. “It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks. You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get *NOTHING*! You lose! Good day sir!”

10. “I’m a twenty-year man. I can tell the difference between punks who need a little lesson in manners, and the freaks like you who just enjoy it.”


Since this was a stinky quiz, anyone who commented can request a doodle.

For Kimizzy: “Ok the doodle I want is one of a sea turtle! I effing love them.”

For Beckeye: “Willy Wonka kicking the Dark Knight in the ass.”

For Domboy: “A unicorn disguised as Charlie Chaplin.”