“Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film” by Patton Oswalt

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Attention all comedy and film nerds … Patton Oswalt’s latest book “Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film” just dropped today. Great book. However, my only complaint is the same complaint I had about his first book “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland” … too f–king short (though not as short as “Zombie”)!

Key takeaway (a realization by Oswalt after spending all hours of the night with his friends complaining about “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace” in 1999):

“Movies – the truly great ones (and sometimes the truly bad) – should be a drop in the overall fuel formula of your life. A fuel that should include sex and love and food and movement and friendships and your own work. All of it, feeding the engine. But the engine of your life should be your life. And it hits me, sitting there with my friends, that for all of our bluster and detailed exotic knowledge about film, we aren’t contributing anything to film …

And here I am. I’ve traded a late-morning coffee shop for a late-night, post-screening bar, angry at George Lucas for producing something that doesn’t live up to my exacting standards, and failing to see that the four hours of pontificating and connecting and correcting his work could be spent creating two or three pages of my own.”

Did I mention this was an awesome book?  Dave says check it out!

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Patton Oswalt on the Tragic Events in Boston today (from Facebook)

Boston. F–king horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

Patton Oswalt on “Christmas Shoes”

Hands down, the funniest evisceration of holiday sanctimony … EVER!!  If you’re a fan of “Christmas Shoes,” please don’t watch this.  Please know that my intent is not to demean anyone who loves this song.  After all, I’m a huge fan of “Love Actually,” which many people despise for the same reasons I despise this song.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have our form of holiday sanctimony that we love.   But seriously folks, “Christmas Shoes” is really f–king awful and Oswalt gives it the treatment it deserves.  Not safe for work or little ones.

“Young Adult” (2011) dir. Jason Reitman / scr. Diablo Cody

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One of the best and most underrated comedies of late is Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s 2011 film “Young Adult”. Far better than their previous collaboration (2007’s “Juno”), “Young Adult” boasts Oscar-worthy performances by Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt and is far more complex than its (fairly funny) preview would make you think.

The plot does seem sitcom simple: high school queen bitch who made good goes back to her hometown under the delusion she can get her now-married boyfriend back. However, while Theron does play a fairly rotten human being, it’s far from a one-dimensional portrayal. Like everyone else, her character has had her share of disappointments and heartbreak. Theron does make you feel for her, even though (as said earlier) her character is pretty awful.

Conversely, the people around her (who would normally be her straight, normal foils) are not let off the hook, either. While they are much better people than Theron’s character, Cody shows that they have their own human moments, as well. Patton Oswalt’s disabled character drowns his bitterness in booze and self-pity. Her otherwise nice and easy-going ex-boyfriend has a subtle, but unmistakable moral lapse. Even her ex-boyfriend’s wife, who is seen as flawless, has her own issues. If not, then why would she invite her husband’s bitchy ex-girlfriend to her baby shower unless it was meant as a subtle (or not-so-subtle) “f–k you”?

All of this may sound heavy handed, but Reitman/Cody handle it in a wonderfully subdued manner. One of the film’s strengths is how so much detail is conveyed about each character without calling attention to it. It’s not what I would call a “feel-good” comedy, but it’s often hilarious in a “hide your eyes and cringe” kind of way. If you’re a fan of Larry David or Louis C.K., you’ll probably dig it.