That’s NOT Entertainment.


A film that stays in your head despite how much you wish it wouldn't.

When you’re a kid you test your courage in different ways and lot of them are dumb.  Climbing too high in a tree, eating some disgusting insect or picking a fight with another kid twice your size.   These things never end well.

Then there’s movies we watch for no other reason than they are disturbing.   Not disturbing like your typical Hollywood horror movie serving up dead-teenagers-on-a-stick as the film critic Joe Bob Briggs once described slasher flicks.   I don’t care how many horny babysitters and jocks Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers stab, slash and dismember.   I’ve never been into those kind of mindless kill-a-thons.   They’re fine for those who enjoy that kind of thing.  They can have my share.

The type of movies I find troubling are the ones that climb behind your eyeballs and set up house in your head.  Films such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Audition, Irreversible, Requiem For A Dream, Last Exit to Brooklyn, A Clockwork Orange and Caligula.

Some of these movies are really quite good like Requiem For A Dream and A Clockwork Orange as opposed to Caligula which is just pornographic trash, but one with a big budget and well-known actors.   Caligula is gross, stupid and jaw-droppingly awful in its blood-letting, disembowlings, dismembering  thrown in on top of the blow jobs and other explicit sex scenes.    One day when I work  up the nerve I’ll go into some specifics about why Caligula is hands-down the absolute worst movie I have ever seen.

Speaking of gross-outs, let me tell you about Irreversible.

The premise is as simple as it is repulsive.  A beautiful woman is walking alone through a subway tunnel.   Over the next 10 minutes she will be threatened, beaten and raped.

A brutal reminder that rape is not a Hollywood plot device.

A brutal reminder that rape is not a Hollywood plot device.

We get to watch.

Irreversible is not a good movie.   The movie rests on two scenes–one of  stomach-churning violence and a prolonged, painfully graphic rape and beating  to carry it for two hours and it can’t do it.   Wrapped around a scene of a man’s head caved in with a fire extinguisher and Monica Bellucci as Alex, suffering through being anally penetrated and repeatedly kicked in the face by a brutal pimp is a extremely talky, dull, pretentious as hell and  pretty dull story of a woman and the two men who both love her and go off on a misguided search for revenge with awful consequences.

Oh, and did I mention the story is told backwards from the end to the beginning?   A fun movie Irreversible is not.  From the opening the director, Gaspar Noe    You don’t enjoy it as much as you endure it.   And you’ll feel very bad when its over.   If you’re still awake.

Tell me again, HOW much Im getting paid for this crappy movie?

"Tell me again, HOW much I'm getting paid for this crappy movie?"

What makes Irreversible such an unsettling experience is the way Noe films the rape.  For ten minutes he turns the camera on Bellucci being savagely raped and he leaves it on.  There are no cuts and no edits.   Noe lingers on the assault with sadistic glee and denies the audience any relief beyond closing their eyes.

I’ve seen more disturbingly ugly scenes than Irreversible punishes the viewer with, but never as prolonged and never as distressingly cruel.   Telling yourself, “Okay, it’s only a movie and Monica Bellucci didn’t really get raped,”  isn’t much help.   I know she wasn’t really raped.  I just feel like she did and that’s upsetting enough.

To further push the buttons of the audience Noe plays head games.    The two male  “heroes” search for Alex’s assailaint, La Tenia (The Tapeworm–charming)  in a S&M gay bar called The Rectum and end up attacking and killing the wrong man while the real La Tenia stands by and watches.

It seems perverse to call a movie like Irreversible, “entertainment.”   It’s a geek show with pretensions of greater meaning.   That’s bullshit.   Who wants to see a man’s head crushed by a fire extinguisher?   Who wants to see a woman anally raped and kicked in the face?   Only a sadist or a masochist, which I am neither.

Rape has become almost trivialized the way it is portrayed in most conventional films and network television.   Watch this shit and you’ll never be blase about rape again.   I can almost guarantee that.

Crime is scarier than swine flu

It’s said if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.   That’s true as far as it goes.  It is very important to stay healthy and avoid catching scary diseases like swine flu.   It just might be hazardous to your health.

Yet while the swine flu is serious business, I like to believe if  you take reasonable precautions, you can handle it if you get it or more likely you can avoid it altogether

It’s the routine and ordinary events of life in the city that scares me.

Last week, for the second time in six months someone held my nephew at gunpoint.   They broke into the house while he was there, held him at gunpoint while they stole several Xbox 360 video systems and the games and threatened his life.

To add insult to injury, my nephew recognized one of the thieves as a kid from the neighborhood whom he played with when they were both boys.   Now the son of a bitch is part of a crew of home invaders.

After taking the Xboxes and robbing my nephew of his money,  debit card and keys, they forced him to unlock the back door so they could get out.    One of the thieves held a gun on him while he was struggling to open the door.   He heard the thug cock the gun and he recalled thinking, “I’m going to get killed because I can’t open this stupid door.”

But he did get the door open and he survived a terrifiying situation.   He was and is throughly shaken by such a horrific situation.  We all come up with possbile worst-case scenarios and “what would we do” to get out of them alive, but one cannot know how they will react until the worst case actually happens.

I’m proud that my nephew showed both courage and common sense.  There were at least three to four guys  who broke in and that’s nowhere close to even odds.   He did the right thing by complying and not resisting.   A Xbox and a video game can be easily replaced.    You only get one life and you do everything you can to keep it.

Live to learn and fight another day.   That’s all that matters.  Everything else is just stuff that you can get more of.

An all too common sight across the nation

An all too common sight across the nation

I’ve written more columns than I care to recall  about Black-on-Black crime and how we have to stop killing each other for trivial and stupid things like video game systems.   It was only a matter of time  before this kind of crime stopped being an abstract thing and someone I know and care for became a victim.   I’m sorry  that it has happened to my nephew–twice—where he has had his life threatened at gunpoint.   That’s just too much to put on any 19 year-old.

Every morning my daughter walks to the bus stop I worry just a bit because there at least three or four sexual predators living our neighborhood.   Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my son 100 miles away attending college in a city where he doesn’t know a soul.    I find myself hoping my sister who lives by herself remembers to turn on her alarm system before she goes to sleep at night.

These days I won’t even honk my horn at some idiot on the road because they might be both strapped and crazy; a bad combination since I am neither.

It bothers me that I have more reason to be afraid of another Black man than I should be of a White racist.    It bothers me a lot.

Suffering a bout with the swine flu sounds so exotic and rare compared to the mundane and routine day-to-day problem of urban crime.   My nephew’s family called and reported the assault and robbery to the police.  They came by and took his statement, dusted for fingerprintes and issued a warrant for his ex-friend.    I hope they catch them soon before someone ends up getting shot and killed over complete bullshit.

Nobody called the local press.  Why bother?  Nobody got shot.  Nobody got caught.  It was just a bunch of Black kids jacking another Black kid.   It  not newsworthy and it sure isn’t unusual.

Swine flu is unusual.  The two-legged swine that victimize and terrorize their own people are depressingly routine.

I never stop hoping I won’t have to write any more stories like this, but I always do.   It’s a growth industry.