What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Myra Breckinridge (dir. by Michael Sarne)

Last night, as I struggled to get some sleep, I ended up turning on the television to HBO and watching a truly infamous film — 1970’s Myra Breckenridge.  Based on a novel by Gore Vidal (a writer that I generally have little use for), Myra Breckinridge is infamous for being one of two X-rated film released by 20th Century Fox in 1970.  (The other one was Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.)

Why Was I Watching It?

Because I’ve read a lot of books devoted to “the worst films ever made.”  And all of them mention 1970’s Myra Breckinridge as being one of the worst ever made.  And having seen the film, I can say that they’re right.

What’s It About?

Well, that’s a good question.  Okay, there’s a bisexual film critic named Myron Breckinridge (played by an actual film critic named Red Reed).  Myron gets a sex change operation from a pot-smoking doctor played by John Carradine.  “It won’t grow back,” Carradine warns him.

Next thing you know, Myron is Myra and is now being played by Raquel Welch.  Pretending to be Myron’s window, Myra goes to the acting school that is run by Myron’s uncle Buck (John Huston) and ends up falling in love with an acting student (played, pretty badly in her film debut, by Farrah Fawcett).  Unfortunately, Fawcett’s in love with a cowboy from Oklahoma so Myra ends up anally raping the cowboy with a big dildo.

Oh, and a 70 year-old Mae West in the film for some reason.  She plays a talent agent. 

It all sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is.

What Worked?

Nothing.  Just in case I’m not being clear, allow me to clarify: Nothing.  Seriously, this may indeed be the worst movie I have ever actually sat through.  What’s said is that it didn’t even work on a “so-bad-its-good” level.  I love trashy film but Myra Breckinridge isn’t really interesting enough to be trashy.  It’s just an amazingly boring film that thinks it’s about sex. 

I’ve also read some who have claimed that this film, bad as it is, has a certain camp appeal.  And, if you’ve never actually seen a campy film, you might think that Myra Breckinridge is camp.  However, camp is not boring.  Myra Breckinridge is.

Actually, there is one scene that has an odd, “you’ve-got-to-see-this-crap” appeal to it and here it is.  Mae West sings “Hard to Handle.” 

What Doesn’t Work:

The entire freaking film.  Seriously.  I mean, I don’t even know where to begin or what specifically to point out because, if you simply take this film’s failings on a problem-by-problem basis, it creates the false impression that the film is somewhat watchable. 

Okay, here’s a few things that I simply will not be able to live with myself if I don’t take a few moments to be a bitch about:

1) There’s a lot of bad movies that are distinguished by interesting or, at the very least, watchable performances.  It’s as if the actors realize that they’re going to go down with the ship unless they bring something new to the film.  (Meanwhile, so-called great films feature some of the worst performances this side of Avatar…)  Unfortunately, Myra Breckinridge is not one of those films.  The cast alternates beyond going insanely overboard (like John Huston and Rex Reed) to delivering their lines with a dull contempt that seems to be directed as much at us as at themselves (like Raquel Welch.)

By the way, Raquel Welch is actually one of my favorite of the old school film stars.  For me, she’s a bit of a role model, a strong Latina who never felt the need to apologize for being both a sex symbol and an intelligent, succesful woman.  But Welch really does give a pretty bad performance here.  Then again, I would argue that she gives the material exactly the amount of effort it deserves.

2) As bad as the cast is, no one is as terrible as Mae West.  The 70 year-old West came out of retirement to play her role here.  Anyway, it’s hard to understand why she’s in this film.  At one point, when she meets a 6’7 actor, she says she’s only concerned with the seven inches.  Now, imagine this being said by your great-great-great-grandma and you have some idea what it’s like to watch her performance here.

3) This film was made in 1970 and it attempts to be all counter-cultural by having “hippies” wandering around in the background.  As well, we get a lot of hard-hitting political satire.  By that, I mean that various fat men in cowboy hats pop up and complain about “smut” and “nudity” in the movies.  I guess the audience is supposed to go, “Oh my God, they’re talking about movies like this!”  It’s for this reason that I think that Myra Breckinridge is actually secretly meant to be a piece of right-wing propaganda.

4) Finally, for no real reason, clips from old 20th Century Fox films are littered throughout the film, popping up randomly to…well, I was going to say “comment on the action,” but few of them manage to do that.  Basically, it works like this: you see Raquel Welch anally raping a man with a dildo.  And then you see a clip of Stan Laurel for a few seconds.  Then, you’re back to Raquel anally raping the man.  Suddenly, there’s a clip of Claudette Colbert smiling.  Suddenly, Raquel’s back and she’s still anally raping the man.  And by the way, I’m not just making this up so I’ll have an example.  This is what actually happens in the film. 

5) And again, allow me to clarify that this film — which features Raquel Welch using a dildo to anally rape a man — is still one of the most boring things ever made.

6) “Okay,” you’re saying, “if you hated it so much then why did you sit through the entire freaking movie, Lisa?”  I did it because, once I start watching a movie, I can’t stop watching until it ends.  That’s my addiction.  That’s my curse.  That’s a duty that I’ve proudly accepted as a film lover.  And not even Myra Breckenridge is going to keep me from doing my duty.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments:

Yes, I know that this is where I traditionally offer up some sort of teasingly vague comment about my first year at college or where I admit that I’m scared of dogs, heights, swimming, and the area directly behind the television.  And you would be justified in thinking that a film that claims to celebrate sexual freedom and bisexuality would give me the perfect excuse to be all sorts of TMI.

But you know what?  There were absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” TMI moments in Myra Breckenridge because there was not one single moment that, in any way, rang true or seemed to possess any sort of insight about…well, about anything.  For an X-rated film that was specifically about sexuality, Myra Breckinridge left me as dry as the Sahara.

So, sorry — for the first time, I can say that I watched something that had absolutely no “OMG!  Just like me!” moments.

Lessons Learned:

I will watch anything.

E3 2011: Tomb Raider Trailer and Gameplay Demo

One of gaming’s elder franchise which has seen some tough times the last couple years has been the Tomb Raider series. The franchise was one of the most popular ones during the late 90’s and early 2000’s but since the latter half of this new millenium’s first decade the games for the series has been lackluster at best and awful at they’re worst. Part of this downward could be blamed on the two films adapted from the game starring Angelina Jolie, but I like to believe that the series was already on it’s way down before those two films came out.

This latest entry to the Tomb Raider franchise looks to revive the series by rebooting the character and making the game an origin title which would put Lara Croft in her early 20’s and still quite new to the tomb raiding and worldwide adventuring game. Crystal Dynamics remains as the game’s developer with Japanese game publisher Square-Enix doing the releasing of the title.

From what was shown at Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference this latest Lara Croft looks to not just be younger but also design with realism in mind. While she still looks quite curvaceous there’s also a more athletic look to her physique which previous Lara Croft designs never truly had. Those past Lara Croft pretty much took the concept of a “teenage boy’s ideal woman” and gave it shape.

I have some hope that this latest title in the franchise will look towards Sony’s and Naughty Dog’s own action-adventure franchise, Uncharted, as a blueprint to bring Lara Croft back to prominence and relevancy in the gaming industry.

Tomb Raider has no definite release date other than sometime around Q3 2012.

Taking Back June 6th

(Special thanks to my sister, Lisa Marie Bowman, who provided me with invaluable help in putting this post together.)

June 6th, 2011 is the 67th anniversary of D-Day but, if you’ve watched the nightly news, you might not know that.  According to them, the only important thing about June 6th is that it’s the day a congressman admitted that he’s been using twitter and Facebook to send out pictures of his junk. 

However, 67 years before Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted what everyone already knew, brave men from across the world bravely sacrificed their lives to defeat the greatest evil the world had ever known.  June 6th is about honoring their memory and sorry Rep. Weiner but we’re taking the day back.

With the help of the movies, of course.

E3 2011: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Trailer and Gameplay Demo

I’ve never been a big fan of Ubisoft’s tactical shooter franchise series. I know many who absolutely love the Ghost Recon franchise and I’m sure this latest entry in the series will be a hit with them as well. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was first announced at last year’s E3 and some of the advanced tactical gameplay shown by Ubisoft were interesting enough that I was intrigued.

I’m not sure if I’ll be buying this title on it’s release date, but the gameplay demo shown during Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference really built on some of what interested me in the first place. The game looks to make use of the Xbox 360’s Kinect motion controller and it’s voice recognition capability. The important thing is that the player doesn’t have to stop using the regular controller, but just use the Kinect as a nice option and complement to the regular 360 game controller.

With the game still months from being released there’s still ample time for Ubisoft to continue to try and win over non-fans of this series such as myself and from the past year since they first announced this title they’ve done a good job. The only problem this title may run into is the glut of war shooters (first-person, third-person and tactical) that will be flooding the market from now til early next year that it may not find a place for itself. There’s only so much money a gamer has to spend at any given time and with the economy the way it is even gamers like myself with jobs may still have to forgo titles like this to get those were more fans of.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has a tentative release date around the Q1 2012.

E3 2011: BioShock Infinite Gameplay Trailer

Ken Levine, head of 2K Games’ Irrational Games development studio, was on-stage during Sony’s E3 Press Conference to hype up his latest title to the acclaimed BioShock franchise. The third game in the series looks to take the series from it’s failed undersea utopian city of Rapture and into the skies. Like Rapture, BioShock Infinite will have a setting that will be a full-blown city but floating skyward attached to giant balloons and zeppelin-like structures with rails that act almost like rollercoaster tracks for players to move from place to place.

The trailer Levine showed at the Sony Presser looks to be one using all gameplay footage which is always a welcome sight since in year’s past too many games promised too much based on cinematic, pre-rendered trailers. I’m all for CG-animated trailers, but it’s always how the gameplay looks and plays that counts in the end.

One thing that was also announced by Levine during this press conference was how the Sony version of BioShock Infinite will have the option for players to use the Playstation Move motion controller to play through the game.

BioShock Infinite only has an approximate release date around 2012.

E3 2011: Star Wars: The Old Republic Intro Cinematic Trailer

For the last half decade or so video game publishers have been trying to find a way to either topple Blizzard’s World of Warcraft from the top of the MMORPG mountain, but each and every attempt has failed on one level or another. Some rival MMORPGs have succeeded in slicing a small piece of the MMORPG market while others just failed utterly. EA tried in the last couple years with their Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, but that game failed in that it was rushed into the market broken in one way or another. It looks like EA will continue to try another attempt at WoW by using another iconic franchise and partnering that with one of the best rpg developers in the industry. The game that’s been hyping itself up at E3 for the past couple years is BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.

This MMORPG looks to continue the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise from BioWare into this MMORPG iteration. The game has been in development for over two years now and as of this week’s E3 there’s still no definite date for it’s release on Windows PC other than sometime next year. Here’s to hoping that the long development time is BioWare and EA looking to not make the same mistake that occurred with the rush to market with Warhammer: Age of Reckoning.

Oh, BioWare did release a beautiful trailer of the game’s Intro Cinematic.

E3 2011: Gears of War 3 Gameplay Demo

One title that also looks to finish off a trilogy that’s garnered one of the biggest gaming fanbase is Epic Games’ Gears of War 3. This franchise remains exclusive to the Xbox 360 console.

The gameplay demo shown during the Microsoft Press Conference showed some of the new enemies players will end up going against not to mention some of the new weapons deployed by the COG team led by it’s leader Marcus Fenix. Gears of War 3 continues to make great use of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3.5 as detail between what’s cutscene cinematic and gameplay continues to blur that it’s hard to notice when the transition occurs.

Gears of War 3 still set for a September 20, 2011 release.