Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Portland is a funny place to live sometimes.(This, by the way, is something called the "Urban Iditarod" and is best left further unexamined)

One of those times is whenever we turn up on the electronical television or in the glamor of the Silver ScreenTM.Other cities accept that they are, well, cities; notable places where many people live, work, and play, and that the notion of such a place appearing in a movie or a television show is not inconceivable or even unusual.

But for all that we live in a city - the largest in our state, and the second largest in Cascadia - a lot of us are rubes about getting on camera.

For one thing, we are utterly foolish about our contributions to film despite our track record as the location of some of the most craptacular shite ever to curl down out of a projector.

I'll sort of give you "Goonies", although I'm not a fan and have never managed to make it through the entire thing in one sitting. And there are several Portland locations in a very sweet and funny little film called "The Favor" with one of my favorite comic actresses, Harley Jane Kozak; it's silly and clever and well worth a look in my not-so-humble opinion. But...Madonna's "Body of Evidence"?

Seriously, this may be one of the worst movies of all time. It's hard to make a film that makes sex look so unpleasant that getting a root canal or getting your legs waxed appears preferable, but this one manages. Come to think of it, there IS wax involved in the thing, and not in a good way.Yike.

Throw in some of the worst acting and worst dialogue ever filmed, and Portland should be ashamed to get hung with this dog. It's really awful. Beyond awful. Unspeakable. Eye-searingly horrible. Satan's stool sample.

It's BAD.

And the rest of our resume isn't much better, although I'd love like hell to get a look at "The Fisherman's Bride" from 1908 Astoria; it has to be better than "Kindergarten Cop". For "Jackass, The Movie", "Twilight", and "Mr. Brooks" we should ALL get a spanking; even "Coraline" can't save us from immortal shame.With that sort of record you'd think we'd shy from more public exposure, but, no; the latest Big Thing is the comedy series "Portlandia"and Portlanders, unquenchable, are once again in our silly swoon over all things cinemagraphic.

I've seen a couple of these. It's sketch comedy, so it's hit and miss; some of the little scenes work terrifically. Some fall flat, some are cringe-inducing awful. Some are just strange; the creators are getting better in their second season at nailing a certain type of Portland; hipsters, the earnest and twee, the ecoNazis (the sketch with the twenty recycling containers each carefully identified by color for every possible subcategory of material was perfect).

But the quality of the material seems...immaterial. What matters is that in the "Timbers Army" sketch the two comedians appear at CopyPilot - the copy store right down from our house! Squeeeeeee! - and at our soccer match with our very own Timbers Army! Squeeeeee!And the New Yorkers and Los Angelinos, used to seeing themselves on film and television, sniff audibly and pretend to find something interesting in the middle distance. They are the sophisticates, and we have just shown ourselves to be gormless, hopeless, shallow goofy rubes.


Labrys said...

I am enjoying another film adventure set in Portland, though....the NBC show "Grimm" is amusing me.

Cops and fairy tales...yeehaw!

I need to come down there soon, I need to visit the Doc Marten store to buy boots.

FDChief said...

I love Grimm, but it kinda serves to make my point: it's a good series because it's a good series. The Portland setting (and I think they actually film a lot of it up in Vancouver, BC) isn't the main point.

We're such hicks, we get all excited about crap like "Twilight" BECAUSE it's filmed here, rather than because it's worth a damn.

Leon said...

Oh Chief,

Nothing's filmed in the US anymore. Everything's filmed in Canada, Toronto for NY and Chicago, Vancouver for forest and west-coast cities. You must have seen a mirage.

And 'Body of Evidence' sounds terrible, but can it compare to a 'Manos Hands of Fate' or the Twilight series?

FDChief said...

Leo: the "Portlandia" is filmed here - we see their crews around town a LOT, and they feature lots of recognizable locations - that's a huge part of the "squeeeee!" factor.

And I didn't see "Manos" but I've seen a bit of the "Twilight" franchise and I can confidently say the Madonna movie is WAY worse. The Twilight stuff is juvenile crap and doesn't pretend to be anything else. The Madonna thing had this idea of itself as some sort of "edgy" "erotic thriller" and turn out to be as edgy as an eraser and as erotic as a date with your sister (who has scrofula and wears an adult diaper).

Perfect example - look at the upper of the two pictures; the scene is supposed to be at Madonna's mysteriously-sexy Lake Oswego pied-a-terre. Willem Dafoe has turned up meaning to settle things with her, having found out that she's been deceptive. She then does what she's been doing through the whole movie - "using her body as a weapon" (the crux of the entire silly plot hinges on her being tried for the death-by-bunga of her married lover, with her bod as the lethal weapon). She flops down on the floor and starts playing with herself. This is supposed to be "erotic" but, frankly, it's like watching your dog lick it's butt. The crux of the biscuit are the boy-panties she's wearing, see 'em? About as erotic as seeing your granny in the shower.


There's a LOT more like that. It's truly suckolicious.

Leon said...

Chief, your old age is affecting your sight - go get that checked out. There's no way they could be filming in Portland. Why next you'll be saying Iraq didn't go all peachy!

Madonna trying to seduce William Dafoe? Now I know you're not just losing your sight, you're going mad!

I could also give you Michael Bay's Transformers series as another example of drek (that technically I haven't watched).

Brian said...

"Drugstore Cowboy" is another interesting Portland film. It's awful and depressing, but I always finish the film thinking that things will be all right somehow. Perhaps it's the soundtrack.

FDChief said...

Brian: Good point about "Cowboy"; it's the happiest depressing film I can think of. When you take it apart and look at it, it's really a terrible story. But I think that's part of van Sant's genius - Bob, the main character, has that doper's way of somehow managing to believe that "things are gonna work out" regardless of all the fucked up choices he's made and how impossible the odds are - and Van Sant somehow makes to see how Bob really believes that.

The area that was used for much of the filming was in the Pearl district, which was a really dumpy, run-down part of downtown when the movie was made back in the late Eighties. It's now completely yuppified and removated and very urban-hipster. Looks nothing like it does in the film.