Movie News

SUNDANCE ’08! Max Rebo And Droopy McCool On Morgan Spurlock and OSAMA, KILLER AT LARGE, GONZO and CHOKE!

Published at: Jan. 20, 2008, 8:04 p.m. CST

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I love this time of year, when Sundance reviews start rolling in. It's like sneaking a peek at the rest of the year in terms of smaller films. So much of what happens at Sundance affects the following year of film that it's like reading tea leaves or having a crystal ball. Please... keep it coming. I look forward to coverage from many of you based on the mail we got pre-fest.

Harry and the fellas, Max Rebo here. I haven't had any type of scoop for you guys that I've tried sending in years, but here's my first day of Sundance coverage.... Myself and my colleague, Droopy McCool, have four reviews for you. One for a great movie, a not so great movie, and two pretty good movies. First up: Morgan Spurlocks new film: Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? I caught an advance screening of this film. How? It's a secret. SPOILER WARNING: No, he doesn't find Osama. SPOILERS OVER This movie was a little bit of a disappointment. It's interesting and has a few good points, but overall it's a piece of fluff that seems more of a self-aggrandizing wink and nod to Spurlocks own sense of self than a hard-hitting search for Osama bin Laden. Spurlock's juvenile framework for the film is more of a distraction than a benefit. (Comparing himself to Woody Allen, George Lucas and Orson Welles in a character select screen...? Come on. But you read that right, there's a character select screen of filmmakers because a lot of the film carries a "Spurlock vs. Osama" video game motif) Another motif the film carries is baseball cards. Everytime an al-Quada operative is mentioned, Spurlock cuts to a baseball card of their head super-imposed on a baseball star and checks out their "stats". It's like a 13 year old made this movie. I can't imagine why the Weinsteins ponied-up millions of dollars for this. I had hoped that after super-size me, Spurlock would pull out a film. It showed a lot of promise, but this one is a big step back. True, there are a few great moments in this movie (like Spurlock getting kicked out of a Jewish neighborhood in Israel and interviewing an Imam that actually preaches the destruction of America, etc.) but it's all so underwhelming because of the presentation. Spurlock seems to think he's a celebrity and he's just not yet and it added a slightly obnoxious tone to the film. I like Spurlock, don't get me wrong, but he hasn't earned this kind of treatment yet. And then just as soon as he finds out where Osama probably is, he flees the country to have his baby and shows me an image I never, ever wanted to see. The moments in the movie that I wish that he would have focused on are the interviews with people that I don't get to see on the news (like that Imam I mentioned). He takes us to grocery stores and shopping malls and neighborhoods in these countries and actually goes a ways in humanizing these people, which is great. If he'd have packed the film with that kind of insight front to back instead of video game cut-scenes, this would be a relevant, hard-hitting documentary. But you have to hand it to the man. He's brilliant. The marketing behind the last few months with the "did he find him? did he not find him?" was a masterstroke and I hope that he can keep it up as long as he can, because this film won't make much money otherwise. Moving on: Speaking of Spurlock and Super-size me, I saw a film called Killer at Large. It was playing at a private venue, not part of the festival (though I'm not sure why it wasn't). This film seems like it has a bone-to-pick with Supersize-me. Not intentionally, but it makes Super-size me look quite skin deep. Killer at large tackles the entire obesity epidemic in america and explains why we're all fat (myself included) and getting fatter (again, me too) on a number of levels. From our evolution to our environment and from our stress levels to public policy and the farm bill. It tackles all of that and gets a lot of really amazing footage that you won't beleive. ( i.e, a 12 year old getting liposuction, a hidden camera interview with the Vice President of McDonalds, Fahrenheit 9/11-style revelations about the bush administrations culpability in the obesity epidemic, how my fat ass contributes to global warming, etc.) Hell even their trailer has the surgeon general coming out and saying, balls out, obesity is a bigger problem than 9/11 (it's on their website: www.killeratlarge.com) And remember how McDonalds did away with supersizing right after Super-size me came out? This film goes into how not only was that just a marketing ploy, things just got worse. It's got interviews with all kinds of people I wouldn't expect to see here (like Ralph Nader and Neil Labute and that rabbi from the Learning channel among tons of others) but it's entertaining and almost too informative. What's even more interesting about this film, too, is that it's really hard to peg. There is no narrator and none of the filmmakers are in it. It's the kind of journalistic kind of infotainment that's been lost to time in recent years. This is definitely one to watch out for. Now, I'm going to pass the keyboard over to my good friend and bandmate, Droopy McCool: So I saw the Hunter S. Thompson bio-doc, GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON. I really liked it. The movie took us rationally through the life a man, who was a living contradiction, always pushing the limits, struggling in break new idea of journalism, culture and politics. The filmmakers spend a lot of time embellishing the legend of Hunter S. Thompson at time with out giving it any meaning beyond "oh haha, that crazy guy." and since the movie is already to long I could have done with out these charms as I and probably anyone else who is gonna watch this movie saw Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we already know these stories. The length and the stories that just really factor into the bigger story of this man’s life are director, Alex Gibney, only real mistake. I was impressed by his movie Enron: The Smartest Guys in The Room a few years ago at Sundance and I will look forward to his next film. Over all the movie is fun, educational, has Johnny Depp as the Narrator, it's heart breaking at moments, it has a great sound track (mostly Sixties and Seventies stoner rock but good you know.) I recommend it to almost anyone. And unless you’re a religious zealot you'll probably enjoy the movie. Then I saw CHOKE. The most surprising thing about Choke is that I didn't hate it. I don’t want to blaspheme, but I do hate the novel written by Chuck Palahnuick. Having said that, I have to say that I love Sam Rockwell. I could watch him drink coffee, find it interesting, and then probably laugh, so when I see him fake-choking on food in restaurants so a stranger can save him and feel better about their lives and help take care of him with money and gifts I am very entertained. When our protagonist travels carelessly from mother obsessed scenes to the sex addicts anonymous meetings he goes to to meet women and women at, I struggle a little bit as it’s just not sold as well as it was in Fight Club (let’s face it, it’s pretty much the same thing). I always enjoy watching Sam Rockwell though. But, in the last third of the movie, I struggle as the movie attempts to convince me that Victor Mancini (Rockwell), is the son of Jesus Christ and a healer of the sick. As this prosperous and dysfunctional story becomes the center of the movie, and demands that you believe this in order to proceed along with the movie I am forced to slap my forehead in agony. The thing is thought I do believe people are going to like this movie. I do on some level. Rarely can it be said that the film is better than the book. In this case it is. But, I just didn’t like the book all that much to start with, so that’s a testament to the director about how deftly he adapted and then cast the film. The relationship between Kelly MacDonald's character is a very charming one (it reminds me of what the relationship between Marla Singer and the nameless narrator of Fight Club), this one actually works though. Overall, I would suggest seeing this if you have a dark sense of humor. You might find it as preposterous as I did, but you'll certainly enjoy yourself. So, thanks for listening to our rambling on these four films. Lapti Nek, Max Rebo and Droopy McCool

Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Jan. 20, 2008, 8:18 p.m. CST

    i am trying

    by ragingdrunklove

    i struggle a little bit at completely understanding the choke review but i am slapping my head eventually. also i am very entertained.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 8:23 p.m. CST

    About Time We Got Another Chuck P Adaptation

    by skoobyx

    They sure dropped that 'Survivor' option in a hurry after 9/11 <p> I consider 'Fight Club' the best movie of the last ten years. I wonder how this one will pan out.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 8:38 p.m. CST

    O' No

    by harold_maude

    the osama movie was bad, ah' i can't believe that spuock is acting like a little turd, guess i'll have to see it anyway.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 8:46 p.m. CST

    GONZO

    by EvilGeek1

    I'm a Thompson freak and I don't know what to make of another documentary about him. He was more of an idea than simple flesh and blood so to try to prod into his life story (yet again) seems futile. He lived a very convoluted life that cannot be properly transfused to film. Probably good for Thompson noobs, but most likely a waste of time for all the real Raoul Dukes out there...

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 8:47 p.m. CST

    I'm over Palahniuk

    by Giphangster

    After seeing "Fight Club" and loving the hell out of it, I went out and read "Survivor." And I was hooked. I ended up reading just about everything he's done, and for quite awhile I was really enjoying it. Then the redundancy of his novels started to really, really wear on me. How many times can you pen the same exact character under a different name? How many times can you write stories that are WAY too similar to one another? Just because he's different (or WAS different) and can write a quality story doesn't mean he's a good author. It means he found a formula that works for him and is now milking it for everything its worth. That doesn't make you a good author. In fact, it makes you quite the opposite. Palahniuk is the god damn Dean Koontz of satirical fiction.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Those reviews...

    by Massage...Bored

    ...were damn near unreadable. Do you guys proof-read any of these things before posting them?

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Interesting about the obesity epidemic

    by samsquanch

    I'd like to see that. But what does evolution have to do with it? No one believes in evolution any more, do they? praise the lord.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Is this Aint it shitty movies?

    by skywalkerfamily

    What's with all these reviews of movies no one will ever see?

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:33 p.m. CST

    stop saying "I"

    by krycek08

    I have to say... I did this... I did that... I have opinions...blah blah blah review the movie again without talking about yourself plese.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:36 p.m. CST

    OH... MY... GOD

    by Varakor

    you mean he didn't find osama???? ah well... nothing on that donkey punch film?

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:42 p.m. CST

    He was looking for Obama!

    by skywalkerfamily

    Not Osama. The joke was on us.

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 10:58 p.m. CST

    How the hell could you not like the book CHOKE?

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    Boggles the mind, but that's just me. I personally think CHOKE ranks right up there with FIGHT CLUB. But since Moriarty had me banned last time I challenged him on something, I will refrain from speaking out further. (Kind of Orwellian, no?)

  • Jan. 20, 2008, 11:33 p.m. CST

    I'm also really enjoying these Sundance reviews

    by IndustryKiller!

    It really is one of the most exciting times of the year for people who like good movies. One or two of the movies that get mentioned often go on to be on my favorites list in a given year. Douche bags like skywalkerfamily I'm sure will have a good time making up drinking games to Transformers for years to come, but the rest of us can appreciate quality.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 1:02 a.m. CST

    Finding Osama

    by Gungan Slayer

    I can't believe how there were people out there that really thought that Spurlock actually finds Osama bin Laden in this film. I mean, come on people, wtf? lol

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 1:50 a.m. CST

    I hear that, Gungan.

    by samsquanch

    Remember all the tough guys who were saying that Spurlock was a 'traitor' for not shooting Osama in the head? That was a bright day for American youth.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 1:54 a.m. CST

    Palahniuk

    by Jarek

    I don't understand how anyone can criticize that he writes the same novels over again. Granted, Choke and Fight Club are similar in ways....... but I dare you to come up with a thread (beyond the most superficial things) that make Survivor, Lullaby, Diary, Haunted or Rant even remotely the same.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 2:11 a.m. CST

    Yes, we can really appreciate quality

    by skywalkerfamily

    like the 100th knockoff of Fight Club, or some random teen that uses drugs for two hours.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 2:21 a.m. CST

    I hated CHOKE too

    by Dmann

    Always thought the book felt like a rough assemblage of ideas thrown away from FIGHT CLUB, SURVIVOR and INVISIBLE MONSTERS.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 2:27 a.m. CST

    OSAMA

    by Sovikos

    I didn't think he'd find Osama, just because I just heard about this movie on Thursday.... but thought maybe he'd come close, or even get a phone call with him! haha... I want to know what the image was that was shown, that he didn't want to be shown?

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 2:48 a.m. CST

    I don't think

    by comedian_x

    he writes the same novels over and over again, but he does use the same <EM>voice</EM> for the characters. <p> They are all cynical, depressed, and decidedly post-modern.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 3:02 a.m. CST

    why didn't Survivor get made instead?

    by thinboyslim.

    and don't say 9/11 like a rudi giuliani nervous twitch coz they all ready made films directly about 9/11, so what now? nobody can ever film planes crashing or about to crash or plane hijacking? survivor is an amazingly good story so would someone man-up and make it already!

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 6:21 a.m. CST

    Giphangster, I was over Palahniuk too...

    by beastie

    ... but his newest, Rant, is somewhat of a departure. While keeping the things we love from his previous novels (pacing, disgusting situations) he was able to change the characters, and offer a very interesting semi-sci-fi story. Read that. I think it is actually his best.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 7:10 a.m. CST

    Palahniuk = Hack

    by m_prevette

    If you're 19 years old and don't know who you are or what you want in life, you probably think he's "cool" - once you grow up you realize Fight Club was bullshit and so is everything else he's "written".

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 7:31 a.m. CST

    m_prevette

    by thinboyslim.

    i bet you shop at IKEA

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Palahuniuk through the ages

    by Series7

    Saw Fight Club went out and read Survivor, then Invisible Monsters (probably his two best). Then read Fight Club and Coke. Lets face it Fight Club is a much better movie, in the book the whole idea is lame and beaten into your skull to hit rock bottom, even Chuck admits that the movie is better then the book, because it made it cool. Then Lullaby and Diary came out and they were ok, kind of similar. Then Haunted came out and it was horrible, trying to take the idea of what created Frankenstien and Dracula and do it all by yourself, if he had got help from his friends and made a series of short stories then it probably would have been something amazing. It turned up being Palahuniuk for dummies. I thought I had out rebelled my Chuck P phase. Now Rant comes along which I am still trying to get through, it was a big change for Chuck, its just not that engaging of a story. And it comes off as a redneck Ellis novel at times, though I could see it being a movie, its like a documetary as a book. I really want to see Choke though because I feel the whole better then the book idea with that one. Can't see it happeneing for Survivor.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Kelly McDonald is manky girl.

    by wowsah156

    Kelly McDonald is a manky girl. She will always be the girlie who sucked off James Bolan , in Stella Does Tricks. Kelly is nothing. Hey Kelly did you know i used to bully your husband Douglas Payne in Woodfarm High School in second and third year? Yeah. Its because of my bullying that he pushed himself to be someone in that crappy band "Travis". Do you know what type of music Travis makes manky girl Kelly? Music for victims. Manky. Tell Douglas i was asking for him Kelly.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    IndustryKiller!

    by AnimalStructure

    Quality? You're joking right? Sundance has become synonymous with studio shit. Name the last film that was "discovered" because of Sundance. The whole festival is a sham.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST

    The film of your mom and the seven dudes, AnimalStructure

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    That was the last film "discovered" at Sundance.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 3:02 p.m. CST

    Great review of Morgan Spurlock!

    by quadrupletree

    "a piece of fluff that seems more of a self-aggrandizing wink and nod to Spurlocks own sense of self" ROFL! That's exactly what I think about everything this hack has ever done and exactly what I expected from this film...

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Cruel_Kingdom

    by AnimalStructure

    Thank you sir for proving my assertion that you are indeed 14 years old.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Choke=Fightclub?????

    by drowningpigeon

    ok

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 7:30 p.m. CST

    Choke=Fightclub?????

    by drowningpigeon

    Ok he didnt go to the meetings in fight club to meet and pick up women he went to get away from everything and let everything out. And whats not to like about choke thats a good book?

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 8:27 p.m. CST

    Supersize me = dud

    by Series7

    Yeah that acclamied documentary only tells you that if you order obscene amounts of McDonalds you will have problems (seriously who orders $12 worth of food except for those already obese or stoned, when they go to McDonalds). You learn more in the 20 minute interview with the Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser then you learn in the entire Supersize me documentary. Too bad they decided to make a dumb movie and call it Fast Food Nation. Though should have made that a documentary and made a dumb movie about a guy who eats nothing but McD's for 30 days to impress a girl.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 8:53 p.m. CST

    Reading these reviews gave me a headache

    by Vanderhorst

    Do you guys pseudonyms so that later you don't have to feel bad about having written such aggravating, poorly constructed reviews? I mean, I don't want to be insulting here, but I think if you took a little more pride in yer work and took a little time, we would be spared episodes like the following sentence: 'The filmmakers spend a lot of time embellishing the legend of Hunter S. Thompson at time with out giving it any meaning beyond "oh haha, that crazy guy." and since the movie is already to long I could have done with out these charms as I and probably anyone else who is gonna watch this movie saw Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we already know these stories.' Please, keep up the work, but take some more time, maybe proofread? I know it's Sundance and it's crazy but that came out less coherent than a drunk-dial text message.

  • Jan. 21, 2008, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Reading these reviews gave me a headache

    by Vanderhorst

    Do you guys pseudonyms so that later you don't have to feel bad about having written such aggravating, poorly constructed reviews? I mean, I don't want to be insulting here, but I think if you took a little more pride in yer work and took a little time, we would be spared episodes like the following sentence: 'The filmmakers spend a lot of time embellishing the legend of Hunter S. Thompson at time with out giving it any meaning beyond "oh haha, that crazy guy." and since the movie is already to long I could have done with out these charms as I and probably anyone else who is gonna watch this movie saw Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, we already know these stories.' Please, keep up the work, but take some more time, maybe proofread? I know it's Sundance and it's crazy but that came out less coherent than a drunk-dial text message.

  • Jan. 22, 2008, 5:02 a.m. CST

    Wasn't Secretary a sundance discovery?

    by Lost Jarv

    Just asking.

  • Jan. 22, 2008, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Wasn't American Movie a sundance discovery?

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    Just asking.