Tuesday, August 16, 2011

untitled


Originally published in Leaf by Leaf, Spring 1998, Copyright © 1998 by Sterling Warner – Evergreen Valley College – Simon & Schuster Custom Publishing



whole worlds were lost because of it
spelled out in the grains of sand
forever stretching out above our heads
conjures up such images

it’s where it got me last time
underneath the bridge, diving
those dumpsters behind the pizza parlor
searching for an answer

rain was falling hard that day
I remember, the hole inside
my head, cold wet and blind, rushing to
and waking up inside a cage

it’s where it got me last time
locked up in the rehab
spoon fed, force fed, promises and visions
borders, walls and freedom

whole worlds were gained because of it
spelled out in the grains of sand
forever stretching out above our heads
conjures up such images

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Adam Sandler Dying?

And does he really make that kind of money? Sheesh …

These are the questions I am left with after watching his 2009 flop, “Funny People.”

Adam Sandler is … is a lot of things, really. I’ve been thinking all morning for the best descriptive phrase as to what Adam Sandler truly is. The sensitive comic. The ├╝ber-rich, Hollywood insider with a heart of gold. The sad clown. An immature funnyman with a gross sense of humor who is laughing all the way to the bank. A guy’s guy. A chauvinist. An idiot. A fraud. A phony. A sellout. An opportunist. An egomaniac … The waterboy.

He is many things, but the thing that he is most to me is honest. Even when he’s full of shit. Because we’re all full of shit. Every guy. That’s why he’s the guy’s guy comic. But he’s also cute enough and sensitive so that the dame’s might go for him too.

But if you look at his filmography you’ll see it goes like hit, miss, hit, miss, miss, hit, miss, miss, miss, miss, hit. He’s got a lot of misses in there, but only a few hits. So I guess that means he can strike gold if he tries (hard enough and long enough).

But that’s why you have to look at his work, and his individual pieces, in context. Because just look at the list of stinkers … it’s bad:
  • Airheads
  • Billy Madison
  • Happy Gilmore
  • Big Daddy
  • Little Nickie
  • Mr. Deeds
  • Click
  • I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
  • Grown Ups

I mean, that’s an awful list.

But then he’s got some really funny work too:
  • The Waterboy
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Punch-Drunk Love, and now this …
  • Funny People

I mean, “Funny People” did not get good reviews – at all. But I am such a PT Anderson / “Punch-Drunk Love” fan that I really wanted to give this a chance. (And maybe I’m also a closet Sandler fan.) But unfortunately the language in this flick is just filthy – and that is not a good sign for me, it is a hallmark of bad writing – so I had to wait for a time when both my kids were in bed. But eventually I was able to watch it last night.

And what a neat, weird, honest movie that was!

You look at this one I just saw, and by the looks of it he’s hit quite a bit of gold. The character and the actor. The guy in the film is filthy rich, and its pretty disgusting to look at all that wealth and not just totally go, yuck! He’s basically playing himself but with a pseudoname, George. And from here on out, I have to say …

SPOILER ALERT !! SPOILER ALERT !! SPOILER ALERT !! SPOILER ALERT !!

… and the thing about George is that he’s a very successful movie star, making crap movies that kids love (the dolphin-boy, or the boy-dog … that was Sandler making fun of himself and the stupid films he makes – and see that’s why its so difficult to hate him, because he knows he’s making stupid films! And every once in a while he puts out a gem, like Punch-Drunk, or … there really isn’t anything else as good as that. This one was – almost, like the first hour was good like that. But then it became a Sandler movie and we stopped being philosophers thinking about the possibilities of dying and the legacy we might leave behind, and who gives a shit about legacy because isn’t life good enough? Short enough? Precious enough? I mean is it ever long enough for anybody? And where does success stop being self-fulfillment and start being about caring for someone else? And then it gets back to that question about forget it! This guy’s about to die and everything becomes so much more important and vital and precious) and these crap movies have given him everything in the world that you could buy. But he still does not have the one thing that you cannot buy, health. And true love. So I guess that’s two things. But that’s when the movie takes this weird spin and you stop giving a shit for his character and start caring for the Zack Rogen, Seth Rogan, whatever the hell his name is … that character! Because that’s when Sandler learns he does not have the disease anymore. He’s been cured. So then he starts faking people to get the other one true thing that he has not been able to buy, love. And so it’s a weird flick. And it’s not a bad flick. But I did not love it either. I think on a scale of 1 to 5, I would put it somewhere between 3 and 4. (1 being hated it; 2 is I did not like it; 3, it was OK; 4, I liked it; and 5 is Full Metal Jacket-status.) But that’s a good thing we don’t actually have to rank these things that way. In real life, that is. (Even though in real-real life everything is ranked numerically, from 1 to 10.) But this is a good movie. How do I know? Because at 2-1/2 hours I was able to sit through the whole thing and not fall asleep. Which is something “The Gladiator” could not do. This movie kept my interest the whole way through. And so this movie, which could be a French philosopher’s thesis paper, turns out to be a rather mixed bag. Just like who Adam Sandler, the actor/writer/producer, is.

And then if we go back and look at that list of stinker Adam Sandler films, there is a lot there that people will swear by. Especially “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore.” They are both coming of age-style flicks with that immature, grossout Sandler sense of humor that has made him a lot of money. But they both also have a lot of charm with that self-deprecating humor.

And so this movie, “Funny People,” is a success too because it does what it is supposed to do – entertain and make us think at the same time.