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“Frozen River” (Cohen Media Group)

1. What’s beautiful about this movie is its simplicity. Whereas most movies feel the need to show everything, “Frozen River” successfully tells its tale without overdoing the details. For example, one of the key characters of the storyline, a deadbeat gambling-addicted father, never even makes an appearance. But the rest of the cast brings him to life with the anger and resentment they hold for him.

2. Actress Melissa Leo, who portrays the film’s lead character Ray Eddy, deserves the Oscar hands-down for Best Actress. Of course, she’s the only non-rock star in the bunch and will be completely overlooked, but her performance is light-years beyond anything Kate Winslet did in her portrayal of a Nazi pedophile in the absolute worst movie of the year (possibly decade), “The Reader.”

3. The film is exceptionally realistic and doesn’t rely on standard Hollywood gimmicks in its storytelling. At times you feel as if you’re watching a real-life documentary, not a fictional movie that was distributed by Sony.

4. You end up either liking or at least sympathizing with each and every character in the film; from the credit card-stealing son, to the financially-struggling and human-smuggling mothers, to the 9-to-5 cop who’s just doing his job, it’s possible to relate to them all.

5. “Frozen River” is in my top five films of last year. So is “Slumdog,” and I know everyone has a boner for it right now, but “Frozen River” is an overall better movie. It lacks the Disney fairytale ending that “Slumdog” suffers from, instead deciding to stick to its realistic guns and leave viewers maybe not with a happy ending, but definitely with a better story.

Frozen River Phoenix,


PS: Just in case you were wondering, my top five films of 2008 were (in order of first to fifth place):

1. “Wall-E”
2. “The Visitor”
3. “Frozen River”
4. “Burn After Reading”
5. “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Wrestler” (tie)

And just for fun, here are my top five most-hated movies of last year (in order of totally shitty to just kinda crappy):

1. “The Reader”
2. “Rachel Getting Married”
3. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
4. “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
5. “Revolutionary Road”

It’s called “The Reader” and stars the old lady who drops her necklace into the ocean at the end of “Titanic,” and Oskar Schindler.

It was awful. AWFUL! And you know I’m serious when I break out the caps and the exclamation points.

Now, I admit that I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to movies. I don’t see movies regularly (especially if I have to pay to see them), have a fairly small DVD collection (at least compared to most of my friends), and haven’t seen a lot of the movie “standards” that most people would expect someone my age to have seen (i.e. “Rocky,” “Rambo,” “Top Gun,” any of the “Lord of the Rings” movies, or even–dare I say it?–“The Empire Strikes Back”).

I just don’t really… I don’t know… care? I’m sure there are a ton of movies out there that I should see, but when it comes to actually seeing them, I just don’t.

Anyway, back to the turd burger I was just subjected to.

I’m gonna give some spoilers here, so if you really want to see “The Reader” stop reading now. Then again, calling what I’m about to write a “spoiler” is like saying a long bout with diarrhea is both wet and messy, but whatever.

Okay, I’m going to break down the entire movie for you step by step. Here we go:

1. A 15-year-old German Boy meets a Much-Older German Woman while throwing up on the street in the middle of a rainstorm. Boy becomes smitten with Woman because she’s all motherly and takes care of his barfing ass. Completely Oedipal.

2. Boy takes flowers to Woman to thank her for taking care of him. Somehow during his visit he gets covered in coal ash. Woman tells Boy to take a quick bath, then greets him as he’s getting out with her vagina.

3. They fuck.

4. They continue to fuck.

5. They do a lot more fucking. I swear, I’ve seen underground Austrian orgies with more of a costuming budget. And we’re talking everything here, folks: his penis, her bush, his taint, her freakishly-red nipples and butt cracks, butt cracks, butt cracks. Everything. If the penis of that actor ever robs a bank, I’ll be able to give a sketch artist a pretty good description of the culprit at large. And yes, I mean AT LARGE.

6. Woman loves it when Boy reads to her, hence the title. He reads her Homer, then they fuck. He reads her Dr. Seuss, then they fuck. He reads her the back of a box of raisins, they fuck. If my local library had this kind of reading program back when I was a teenager, I would have read a lot more books.

7. They go on a bike ride and stop for lunch. She can’t read a menu. We realize she’s illiterate.

8. Boy begins to realize maybe bagging this old broad ain’t as cool as it used to be, especially since a much younger chick from school is giving him the flirt eye.

9. Old German Woman gets mad, gives Boy a really creepy sponge bath that goes on way too long, fucks him one last time, then leaves.

10. Boy goes to law school. While there, his class studies an ongoing court case about a group of Nazi women who are on trial for crimes against the Jews during World War II.

11. You see where this is going?

12. Boy realizes that one of the women on trial is Much-Older German Woman. Much-Older German Woman officially becomes “Illiterate Nazi Lady” (INL).

13. INL is accused of writing an official SS report, thus proving that she was in charge of said group of Nazi bitches. This isn’t true, of course, because SHE CAN’T READ OR WRITE. But rather than embarrass herself in front of the court for being illiterate, she’d much rather just admit that she was a NAZI LEADER.

14. INL is convicted and sent to jail.

15. Boy becomes Man (i.e. Ralph Malph) when he finally starts fucking chicks his own age. But a part of him still misses tapping that Swasti-gina.

16. While in prison, Man starts sending INL audio tapes of him reading books. INL teaches herself how to read and write with the help of his tapes, and eventually starts writing him back. Man, meanwhile, has invented “Books on Tape” without even knowing it.

17. Nazi serves her time and is now a scraggly old sea beast. Man finally comes to see her one week before her release, but he is all like, “This love is GONE, baby! You’s old, you’s dry, you’s ashy, and you’s a NAZI!”

18. Nazi is feels rejected and kills herself in her cell by standing on a stack of books and then hanging herself. See the symbolism there? And by “symbolism” I mean “dumbism.”

19. Schindler is sad. The Nazi left him money, so he donates it to a Jewish literacy group.

20. Ralph tells his daughter the story while standing over the grave of the Nazi. Possibly facing his own mortality, he realizes his days of getting ANY kind of pussy (young, old, Nazi or otherwise) are over, and starts to look forward to embracing death.


Does my description sound a bit convoluted to you? Maybe a bit long and boring and long and boring and LONG AND BORING? Yeah. It is.

I had to keep myself from laughing out loud during this movie. Afterward, the screenwriter gave a little Q&A about whatever, and I just started zoning out completely. Do you know how many ceiling tiles there are in Theater 3 at the Arclight? I do.

So, yeah… that happened.

Tomorrow night we see “Wall-E” again, with a Q&A afterward with director Andrew Stanton. That will help cleanse my movie palette.


I can now draw Kate Winslet’s nipples from memory,


Old Poop!