October 14th, 2011 / 3:06 pm

On Popcorn

The following are reviews of films I either fell asleep to, fast forwarded through, or simply didn’t understand, written in a manner unabashedly ignorant of cases in mention, interspersed with meditations on popcorn.

2001: A Space Odyssey — First there’s apes everywhere and weird music, then an ape goes bizerk and slams the earth with a femur bone. And there’s a large Richard Serra type piece of steel just standing there and I’m like “yup, this is totally Stanley Kubrick,” yup, I’m about to experience three hours of weird slow shit. Then all I remember is a space man talks with a pretty lady like he’s buying a plane ticket. Then he walks through a corridor with bright lights, like the perfume section of Sephora or Macy’s. I end up 20x-60x fast forwarding through it until I’m at this 20 minute long Pink Floyd-type video full of effects or something, again, I can’t remember exactly, only that I was severely annoyed. Then the space man is in bed and there’s a gigantic baby. So I’m thinking that space and amniotic fluid is the same? And like we are apes? In Radiohead’s “No Surprises” video Thom Yorke dressed up as the space man and water filled the mask until he almost drowned, which was also annoying, like his current oily hair look. Kubrick had it wrong. In 2001 the world was still boring like in 1968, but Miley Cyrus didn’t exist, so that’s something.

Synecdoche, New York — I really like Charlie Kaufman. He seems like someone who has difficulty getting laid. I like Philip Seymour Hoffman for the same reasons. So when the two joined forces, I got really excited. I took the bus to the theater, ordered a medium popcorn, and went inside. Watching movies alone in public is a noble act. You are saying to the world “I am single and don’t have any friends,” or if it’s a matinee weekday show, “I am unemployed.” So: shit gets fucked up in this movie. The stage sets of the play in the move, the stage sets of the actual movie representing stage sets in the movie, and the stage sets of the movie representing the objective reality within the movie, get all blurry, like edifice without representative authority. Also, the actors switch around like David Lynch or William Gaddis, such that the means of artifice with which the narrative conceit is conveyed is intentionally exposed, and I guess if you’re on a hot date and she went to a liberal college and gets bags with birds on them from etsy and knows who Baudrillard is, then maybe you want to say “wow, that was utterly brilliant” after the movie is out and you two are walking to your Japanese-made car that beeps when you squeeze an unsqueezable piece of black plastic in your right pocket, but I wasn’t on that date, and that girl seems really annoying, so I just left the building, but not before draining my diet Sprite now yellow down the urinal.

Dr. Doolittle — Somehow Eddie Murphy can hear animals, which doesn’t explain why all the animals of the world follow him. This is irrational. I understand English, but Oasis or Coldplay don’t follow me everywhere. Dr. D attempts to escape the animals by driving to a cabin, but the animals follow him there. I think there was a scene involving a parrot and the making of pancakes from scratch. I was not eating popcorn, but pretzels. A lot of eating has less to do with caloric homeostasis than our oral fixations, the Freudian return to before the world hurt us. Pop, pop, pop, microwave flashing 0:00, popcorn the fireworks of American fields, of independence and mastication. Imagine me sitting on my couch watching Dr. Doolittle without having to tend to my mouth in any way. I would probably try to kill myself. Think of the millions of dollars and hours that were spent CGI-ing the animals and placing them convincingly in space, such that they exuded weight as subtle manifestations, the way Cezanne did his peaches. We live in a horrible world. I fell asleep.

8 1/2 — I think in college my art film friends kept talking about how great the movie was, and Roger Ebert also, and maybe that James Lipton guy, so ‘I just had to’ watch it; I went to the media library and watched the first 3 minutes of it and was so bored I turned it off. I just remember it was in black and white and there was slow stuff happening or something. College is a socioeconomic assertion. People working at Walmart don’t know who Fellini is, but we do. This is somehow important to the fabric of society. Not to punish movies for being made before the invention of color, but still, those movies all suck.

Gummo — I know cool people like hipsters like this movie and Harmony Korine in general, but I don’t get it, or him. To be fair, I didn’t watch the entire movie, just youtubed excerpts out of masochistic self-defeating curiosity, like how I’m constantly trying to acclimate to some fucking hipster sensibility, so when at a bar when the movie is mentioned by people whose faces are lit red by the flickering flame below and I can nod without deceit. All I remember is skinny kids wearing furry hats or masks and riding bikes, in what looked like South Carolina or Virginia, with like violent or sexual overtones. Maybe there were people with Down syndrome inside the camera shots, or maybe that’s just the vibe the movie gave off.

Maid in Manhattan — This was on AMC or TBS one night about five months ago. I made popcorn and doused it in truffle salt. Truffle salt is simply salt infused with truffles — this very fancy mushroom that only grows in England or Washington which only trained hogs can find. They are like $300 a pound. Much of my life is a desperate attempt to “live it up” in an economically realistic way, like a $3M yacht or $3K over-night GFE-escort blows the bank, but I can have truffle salt popcorn while watching a racist movie no problem. The movie is racist because the maid is Hispanic (Jennifer Lopez) and the rich guy played a Nazi in another movie (Ralph Fiennes). I didn’t understand much of the plot, mainly because I was flipping back and forth between it and some VH1 best 100 videos of the 90s or something. It was just really sad that the maid was Hispanic, and that the only reason why Ralph was remotely interested in her was because Hispanic females tend to have pronounced asses.

Hostel II — Basically these very attractive girls vacationing in Europe end up in this castle and all I remember because I couldn’t finish the movie was one girl was hanging upside down from hooks and being skinned alive by some lesbians. I know that Hollywood blood is red dye and corn starch, but what bothered me was how thoughtless the violence was. It’s like in porn when all you see are disembodied pieces of juicy flesh moving, like an alien birth, and what makes it erotic is the story around it that you tell yourself. “That gaping asshole made my latte this morning.” Well, I’m afraid of the story boys tell themselves about the girl hanging there being skinned alive. Horror is not just a genre, it is history. Eli Roth is a douche.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — Yes, I know that you understood it, and that you love the movie, because you are a really smart person who’s had complex and dynamic relationships with smart unhappy people. I get that; and I know that — like The Matrix, Total Recall, and Inception — a lot of what happens isn’t “really” happening, which in the context of fiction I’ve always felt was a lazy conceit, like dream, “another level,” or “all in your head” stuff, but even the dreams or whatever didn’t make sense. To me it was Michel Gondry’s excuse to make a giant sink or table to make Jim Carrey seem small in scale, or to make a library suddenly turn into the beach. Also, Kate Winslet dying her hair pink was soo high school. So basically two people break up and the break-up is so hard that one of them erases their memory? I do remember the look on Jim Carrey’s face when he was lonely on the train, and how looking at that look somehow hurt me. I used to take the train a lot. I know that feeling. I put my buttery fingers deep in my mouth, like a blowjob that flowers into a fist full of popcorn. A kernel stayed in the back of my throat for what seemed like forever, some tiny abrasive hickey felt from the incorrect side of my neck.





  1. ryder collins

      ” Think of the millions of dollars and hours that were spent CGI-ing the animals and placing them convincingly in space, such that they exuded weight as subtle manifestations, the way Cezanne did his peaches. We live in a horrible world.” 

      thanks. now i can’t stop thinking about the peoples cgi-ing for hours and hours and hours in the name of doolittle…

  2. stephen


  3. Anonymous

      Perhaps an even greater socioeconomic assertion than college itself: blogging that “college is a socioeconomic assertion.”

      I liked this post a lot, because it took down a notch ~40% of the films which give me a guilty ego-boost for enjoying and bringing up in conversation.

      Also, the perfect description of a stuck popcorn kernel as a “tiny abrasive hickey felt from the incorrect side of my neck.”

  4. postitbreakup

      every time i tell myself, don’t click on a jimmy chen thing, it will just piss you off; but every time i fail; so i guess you’ve succeeded in that regard at least

      or, should i say,
      “First there’s another dumb Jimmy Chen internet+art mashup picture, then there’s a lot of intellectual laziness masquerading as a film critique, then a ridiculous sentimental ending. I skimmed the middle but that’s alright, because everything Jimmy Chen writes is basically the same. Look at me, I don’t like popular things.”

  5. David Fishkind

      i like it a lot jimmy i’m alone in my apartment right now and i’m really thirsty but not for the drinks i have which are tomato juice and tap water

  6. Zacgerman

      i literally wish you would die and stop contacting me or existing on the internet.

  7. postitbreakup

      who are you actually

  8. Jimmy Chen


  9. alex crowley

      speaking of liberal college-y things to do, Jimmy, you should re-watch the last section of 2001 synched with Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”.

      actually, that’s what you were doing anyway, wasn’t it?

  10. lorian long

      seems like moms really love maid in manhattan. for some fucked up reason i have seen that movie like, 4 times.

  11. Guestagain

      seems you got the recipe down so why don’t you try it? make me laugh loud once, I dare you

  12. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      “I understand English, but Oasis or Coldplay don’t follow me everywhere.” made me laugh out loud… still more to go. Can’t understand the 2001 movie either. There isn’t enough pot on earth to make it enjoyable. Haven’t tried though.

  13. Mr. Ian M. Belcurry

      Different strokes for different folks, my friend. Can’t help but think of Beavis and Butthead on that one. And a reach around for some weird reason, IDK. Sly Stone knows.

  14. Milesross

      shut the fuck up. please never comment on the internet again.

  15. postitbreakup

      whenever i get the funding for my color 8 1/2 linear Eternal Sunshine crossover extravaganza, it will be funny as fuck, i guarantee it

  16. deadgod

      jimmy have you ever stayed awake through l’avventura which means “the adventure” in italian they say and is an italian title because all the talking in the movie seems to be in italian

      it’s totally like european and awesomely popcornable and it’s a hoot and a holler

      or that rooskie thingy stalker which looking at it feels like having corn pop from your eyes only with a different feeling and appearance and sound and smell and taste

  17. Leapsloth14

      Fucking A

  18. M. Kitchell

      eli roth is definitely a douche

  19. adrian

      Jimmy, you’re pretty fucking brave to admit all this, and in a public forum, to boot. The films you mentioned do pretty much suck, and the people who claim to like Disharmony Korine are fucking liars. God bless you. Unfortunately, your hipster cred just went down the toilet. Everyone gonna hate on you now, I gare-ron-tee it!

  20. M. Kitchell

      i am not lying when i say i like harmony korine

  21. werdfert

      i want to do a judd apatow marathon. i used to hate judd but then i watched freaks and geeks and really started to hate him. seth rogan never seemed funny until Funny People because it wasn’t a movie at all and he wasn’t fat anymore.

  22. Ebert

      All of those movies are lame except for 2001.  You really should re-watch 2001; you obviously missed the point if you’re referencing it to Pink Floyd. 

  23. Trey

      you like all popular things?

  24. postitbreakup

      popular was the wrong word. i don’t care that he doesn’t like doolittle or maid or whatever the fuck, although those are pretty easy pickings for a critique. but the fact that the worst he can say about movies like 2001 & eternal sunshine & fucking EIGHT AND A HALF is that he didn’t get them or didn’t feel like watching them because they were out of order or B&W… that seems pretty lame to me, and not “brave” to admit, just lazy

      but really like i said it was my fault for clicking on a post i knew i wouldn’t like, his whole style just drives me crazy, i’d rather be stuck on an island with fucking tao lin than jimmy chen

  25. postitbreakup

      how are any of these movies “hipster”? even if you consider kaufman’s films hipster somehow, how are any of the rest hipster? wtf

      fellini & kubrick as hipsters… jesus christ

  26. Trey

      I liked Eternal Sunshine pretty well. I haven’t seen 8 1/2. In like the 4th or 5th grade my gifted program teacher made us all watch 2001. I was confused and don’t remember the majority of it. I think I spent most of my time mixing all of the sodas into a “suicide”-style soda and trying to impress a girl. that girl lives in korea now, with her husband and baby.

      It’s conceivable that JC likes these films more than he lets on, or that he really has no opinion. It’s also conceivable that he really is bored by them, I guess. I think HTMLG just likes to have a shitstorm every now and then. it’s fun to be a part of the shitstorm, though.

  27. Trey

      also as something of a connoisseur of romantic comedies I will say that Maid in Manhattan definitely represents the lower end of that category.

  28. postitbreakup

      i like that “suicide” soda detail a lot

  29. postitbreakup

      romantic comedies i like: sleepless in seattle, when harry met sally, something’s gotta give

      but they are like cotton candy to kubrick’s steak (or portobello mushrooms, you damn vegans)

  30. ryder collins

      really? fucking tao lin? i think i’d rather walk straight into the ocean & beg the sharks to eat me if i were stranded on an island with tao lin & he kept saying, feel interested in elaboration on this in response to me saying, stop fucking saying feel interested in elaboration on this

  31. postitbreakup

      tao, we are on a desert island, what are we going to do?
      -seems bleak

      tao, will you help me try to fish?
      -i eat raw fruits and vegetables ~98.5% of the time

      tao, will you help me build a raft?
      -feel interested in elaboration re: ‘help’?

      would you please stop trying to check your twitter via sundial and help me build this raft?
      -i’m able to, but i don’t want to currently

      i’m going to bash your skull in with a coconut, what do you think of that?
      -i have not contemplated that, seems stressful

  32. Zgerman

      this was the least funny thing i have ever read, in my life. kill yourself. please

  33. postitbreakup

      who is bothering to register a new account every time just to tell me as “zachary german” to fuck off, what’s the point, i’m nobody, what are you doing. seriously

  34. Tummler

      Same here. I know that adrian’s comment is not meant to be taken literally, but still.

  35. ha

      on point, jimmy. way to b real.

  36. xi

      I get what you’re saying but I still think maybe you should stop saying it, particularly given your first statement, because your opinions are noted, I’m sure you’re not the only one who has them, and Jimmy Chen is really well within his rights to post whatever he wants to post for the people who want to read what he has to say.

  37. ryder collins

      feel interested in elaboration on this

  38. judson

      hilarious. if only most people could be this honest.

  39. Anonymous

      HTML Giant reminds me of 4chan for literary types. 

  40. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Dang, Jimmy. This is great, it makes me want to be your friend. Like real friend, the ones you drink liquor out of soda bottles with while walking around a city and talking about any old bullshit. If you’re ever in Chicago I’ll buy you a beer and give you my real name and everything.

  41. Steven Pine

      it’s like the OP doesn’t actually have any friends. amazing. I wonder how much further down the naval-gazing-rabbit-hole html can go! 

  42. c2k

      Every movie in the original post can be skipped except 8 1/2 – tho I enjoyed the above review of this film. Thx.

  43. derilickmyballs

      Your opinion of 2001 a Space Oddysey is shameful. Seriously shame on you. Why don’t you read up on it a little more before voicing your weak minded opinion. If you spent more time trying to understand the subject matter and less time trying to make funny comments (which, to be honest, I do find some of them to be funny) You would have an opinion worth stating publicly. Twat goblin.