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The Bottom Shelf #44

12.29.2005

Hope you all had a joyful Christmas. The season that supposedly celebrates the birth of Christ despite the fact the holiday was created by Christians in the 6th century, and makes people spend huge amounts of money on crap they donít even like for people they donít even like. Hereís one thing that everyone likes: two reviews from the best reviewer in the free world.

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (2002)
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Parry Shen & John Cho

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

Itís impossible to write about BETTER LUCK TOMORROW without mentioning itís one of the only movies Iíve seen that exclusively feature Asian-American teenagers, so I will. The cool thing about this movie, is the universality of the concepts. Yes itís gotten a lot of attention based on the ethnicity of the cast, but who cares about that shit? In essence, itís about being a teenager, and how sometimes the pressures and demands of that era can make teens goÖ.well kind of berserk.

We follow Ben and his group of three friends, all in their last year of high school and all rabid perfectionists. Not only do they get tremendous grades, but these guys are not geeks. Theyíre cool dudes who know how to dress and party. So whatís the problem? This isnít enough for them. They form a gang that focuses on illegal activities, which in turn takes their minds away from the demands of perfection. Everything goes well for a while until eventually it all comes crashing down (naturally).

The cast is great, all of them donít have a second of sub-par acting, but the real appeal of the movie is what I mentioned before, the universality of the problems these guys face. What happens if you achieve everything youíre supposed to and it just doesnít seem good enough? Sometimes just alienation, but in BETTER LUCK TOMORROW it leads to massive amounts of hedonism and death. You donít have to be an Asian-American to enjoy it, all it really takes is understanding what it can mean to be a teenager.

Favorite Scene:

I really like the opening scene. Completely sets up the rest of the movie.

Favorite Quote:

ďEveryone needs a wakeup call.Ē

Trivia Tidbit:

This truly was an independent movie. The movie was financed by credit cards and the actors deferred their salaries. It may have been cheap to make, but the finished product is anything but cheap-looking.

See If You Liked:

AMERICAN PSYCHO, BULLY, JAWBREAKER

SID AND NANCY (1986)
Directed by Alex Cox
Starring Gary Oldman & Chloe Webb

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

Who says I never recommend romantic movies? SID AND NANCY is as romantic as they get! Sure it involves mass quantities of drugs, cursing, and um, oh yeah, murder, but thereís still a lot of love here. Iíd like to assume that you all know who Sid Vicious is, but that probably is not the case, so Iíll give a brief history. He was the bassist of the infamous Sex Pistols and Iím using that term loosely. Iím not a musician, but from my understanding the bass is the easiest to instrument to play in a traditional four piece set (ďWhatís the definition of a bassist? Someone who likes to hang out with musiciansĒ is a fairly well known joke). Having said that, he still could only play two chords. Really beside the point though, because The Sex Pistols werenít really about the music.

They were about image. Sid Vicious was the leader of this movement and really walked the walk. Nancy Spungen was his groupie girlfriend who fell in love with him immediately. What follows is a love story only rock ní roll could give us. Even if youíre not a Sex Pistols fan, or a punk fan in general, SID AND NANCY tells a constantly engaging tale with extremely engaging performances. Gary Oldman is known as an acting chameleon and if you donít know why, check out this movie. His portrayal of Sid is DEAD ON. While thatís a great reason to watch the show, the real appeal is watching a relationship that seems like it was based on a Joy Division song. Some relationships end in bliss. Others end in tears. In the case of SID AND NANCYÖ.well Iíll put it this way: not exactly a NOTEBOOK ending. Happy endings are overrated anyways.

Favorite Scene:

Most casual fans like the part when Sid dances with the kids but you know how sometimes a scene can literally jump out of your T.V.? The scene where Sid and Nancy watch the fire build around them is one of those rare occasions.

Favorite Quote:

ďI f*cking hate them! I f*cking hate them! Ass! Ow! F*cking motherf*ckers! They wouldn't send us any money! They said we'd spend it on DRUGS!Ē

"We would!Ē

Trivia Tidbit:

Gary Oldman lost so much weight for his role as Sid that he ended up in the hospital. Christian Bale must have been heavily influenced by Oldman.

See If You Liked:

ROMEO AND JULIET, GARAGE DAYS, LENNY

Now on to New Yearís. Lucky for you my resolution applies directly to The Bottom Shelf. I plan on using more Jim Varney and Gilbert Gottfried movies. You know, more ERNEST and PROBLEM CHILD type stuff. Excited? I sure am. Itís gonna be a great 2006.

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