Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Movie: House of Sand and Fog

Can I just slink back here after a month of not posting anything, after three significant trips under my belt this spring/summer and no meaningful blog posts to show for any of them, with a mere movie rant? Is that an affront to the blogging world? Well, it's either that or continue radio silence over here, so movie rant it is.

I hated this movie. Hated it! God, I loathed the female lead so much from the first moment she appeared on the screen. You know how I usually don't like to give away anything about movies, in case you, Dear Reader, plan to watch them? Yeah, that rule is being suspended today. If you want to see this movie and don't want to have any of it spoiled for you, Stop Reading Now. The rest of you, read on.

So this idiot gets evicted from her house because of a supposed bureaucratic mix-up, non-payment of business tax. She swears she never had a business and doesn't owe the money. Although I think if you take money from people to clean their homes, yeah, you have a business and should be taxed, but that's just me. They didn't really get into those details. Her husband has left her (probably because she's some form of addict, alcohol, I think), and she's too depressed/lazy to open her mail and find out that her attempts to clear up the tax mistake failed. I've been mighty depressed before, but I never stopped opening official-looking mail. She deserves to be evicted because of her stupidity alone.

The police officer assigned to evict her takes pity on her and helps her move her crap into storage, and then later proceeds to start an affair with this blight on humanity, at which point we also discover that he is corrupt (framed someone for drug possession, but it's okay because the guy he framed was a wife-beater). So not only is she an idiot and a pathetic loser, she's also a homewrecker (the cop has two kids). Not only is he corrupt, he's a cheating bastard. The woman and her bent cop boyfriend now proceed to harass and bully the innocent family who has purchased her home at auction, threatening them with deportation (they are immigrants from Iran) and then locking them in their own bathroom for a night after they tried to rescue Idiot Girl from two suicide attempts. Did I mention that bent cop is also kind of racist and narrow-minded? Of course he is.

The man who spends the night held prisoner in his own bathroom comes up with a plan to make everyone happy (he gets the house so he can raise money to send his teenage son to college, Idiot and Crooked get some money to start their shitty new life of depravity), and in the course of executing it, his son is unjustly murdered by some other police officers. So he goes home, drugs his wife with an overdose of something to kill her (a mercy in my opinion), kills himself by asphyxiation (tragic), and then Idiot Girl shows up and realizes, yeah, it's really not my house any more. Oh, and Cheating Cop goes to prison, where he belongs. Hated This Movie.

Sure the innocent family isn't completely innocent. The guy isn't exactly gentle with his wife, but at least he's honest and his values are basically to make a better life for his children. Maybe the message of this movie is that nothing is black and white, that no one is either all good or all bad? I don't know what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. I certainly didn't waste any time on any of the DVD extras.

A while ago, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame did a blog post about a new movie rating system. I would add another criteria to expand the Sadism rating to include Murder, Suicide or Violent Death. If only such a rating system existed, I could have been spared watching this piece of garbage. And while I'm amending Mr. Adams' wonderful new scheme, let me also add that all movies should come with a warning as to whether or not cancer is being used as a plot device. A C means yes, no C means no. That would be another good addition.

But back to the movie recommendation: avoid this one like the plague. Sure, Ben Kingsley gives an excellent performance, as does the actress who plays his wife, but trust me, I am saving you two hours of your life that you will not get back. Unless you want to be angry about injustice and depressed about tragic loss that could have been prevented so easily, this movie is not for you. Go do something, anything else instead.