An Interview with Chip Chipperson by Jennifer Carmody (from the Carmody Central Podcast), April 15, 2014

Aside from Doug Stanhope, there’s no living comedian that’s more painfully honest than Jim Norton.  To say Norton is an open book is an understatement.  He frequently discusses his sex addiction, his numerous encounters with prostitutes, etc. without batting an eye.  And doesn’t care what you think … at all.  In fact, one of his stand-up specials was called “Please Be Offended” and one of his books was titled “I Hate Your Guts.”  Many people are put-off by Norton’s willingness to delve into the darkest parts of his life so openly, but I find him extremely funny and refreshing.  I don’t always agree with him politically, but I appreciate his honesty and his disdain for anyone who isn’t equally as forthright about their dark side.  In a world where pious and sanctimonious bulls–t is increasingly praised, we need more artists like Norton.

Having said all this, my favorite part of Norton’s comedy is his pathetic, creepy, deluded, and brain-damaged alter-ego Chip Chipperson.  Chipperson is a masterpiece of anti-comedy, the equal of anything Andy Kaufman or Sacha Baron Cohen has ever done, if not any character Phil Hendrie has conceived.  But many people, including some Norton fans, HATE Chip.  And I can’t blame them.  Seriously, Chip is THAT f–king annoying and repulsive.  But to appreciate Chip is to love him.  Jennifer Carmody interviewed Chip for her podcast and for Chip fans, this is pure, undiluted Chip at his finest … or worst … I realize it’s hard to tell the difference.

If you’re even remotely sensitive, please don’t listen to this.  The language is beyond not safe for work.  The first 2/3 of this are gold.  However, in the last 1/3, Norton goes into some of his other disturbing alter-egos and while funny, is uneven and isn’t quite as good as the first 2/3.  But if you’re a fan of anti-comedy, strap in.

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Some random thoughts on “Les Miserables: The Movie” … tagline: “You will believe a 7-year old can cry!”

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1. Director Tom Hooper really likes the wide angle lens with extreme close-ups on people’s faces. At times, I didn’t know if I was watching “Les Miserables” or “A Clockwork Orange”

2. Russell Crowe does a fine job singing and acting. No, I’m not going to buy the 30 Odd Foot of Grunts box set, but Crowe brought it. End of story.

3. Anne Hathaway does deserve the accolades she’s getting. When someone dominates that early in the awards season, you almost want to root against them. But she’s great and if she wins the Oscar, it won’t be undeserved.

4. All of the performances are good-great, from Hugh Jackman to Sacha Baron Cohen to Helena Bonham Carter to pretty much everyone else.

5. This movie is LOOOOOOONG!!!! Not quite “A.I.” long, but close.

6. As much as I resisted, the final line “To love someone is to see the face of God” always brings on the waterworks for me.

7. As I was leaving the theater, I saw my 7-year old visibly distraught. I thought that maybe he got swept up in the emotional ending until he said, “My God, that was the longest movie EVER!!!”

Final verdict: I liked it a lot, but let’s face it, this is a film you’re either going to love or hate. Yes, it’s such a shamelessly manipulative tear-jerker, it makes Steven Spielberg look like Jean-Luc Godard. But seriously, what did you expect? Hooper does what he’s supposed to and totally delivers a shamelessly manipulative tear-jerker.

If you don’t think you’ll like this movie, there is nothing here that will convert you. If you liked or loved the play, the film is a fine adaptation and you’ll enjoy it. And on the slim chance it wins the Best Picture Oscar this year, it won’t be the end of the world. Not because it would beat out better films, but because watching people lose their collective s–t if it wins is going to be really, really funny. And shame on anyone who thinks the Oscars have credibility anyway.

As an act of contrition, I will watch another film this week about an unjustly condemned man: “Penitentiary 3,”, starring Leon Isaac Kennedy, Anthony (“Luke” of “Luke and Laura”) Geary, and The Haiti Kid, playing the Midnight Thud, the scariest 3-foot crack-smoking prison rapist in movie history.

“General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait” (1974) dir. Barbet Schroeder

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If you liked Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator,” here’s a film that’s the real deal … and arguably funnier.  Back in the early 1970s, Franco-Swiss director Barbet Schroeder (who later went on to direct “Barfly,” “Reversal of Fortune,” and “Single White Female”) was hired by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to make a film about him …

From here, I’ll go to the Wikipedia description:

Director Barbet Schroeder has characterized the film as a “self-portrait” by Amin. While Schroeder and cameraman Nestor Almendros were given unprecedented access to Amin’s daily life, the documentary makes it plain that many of the events (including the residents of a garrison town turning out en masse to greet Amin) were staged for their benefit. In several sequences, Amin actively directs the cameraman to particular points of interest, at one point shouting to “film that helicopter!”

However, Amin’s influence as a “director” went beyond the actual filming of Idi Amin Dada. As per his agreement with Amin, Barbet Schroeder made two versions of his documentary: the first, an hour-long cut, was released in Uganda and delivered directly to Amin, who was apparently pleased with the result. The second version was released only outside Uganda and contained an additional half-hour of footage and narration.

According to Schroeder, Amin dispatched his agents in Britain to watch the film and write down a full transcript of its contents. Amin soon sent a letter to Schroeder requesting additional cuts to the film, but Schroeder refused. In response, Amin rounded up almost 200 French citizens living in Uganda and confined them to a hotel surrounded by the Ugandan army, supplying them with Schroeder’s home telephone number and explaining that their release was conditional on Schroeder’s acquiescence. In the face of this dilemma, Schroeder made the requested cuts, replacing the 2½ minutes of excised footage with title cards crediting the gaps to Amin. On Amin’s fall from power, Schroeder restored the missing material, and most versions seen today contain the full footage.

However, as funny as this film is, it’s hard to laugh when you remember all of the horrible stuff Amin did to his people. The man may have been a delusional buffoon, but he was pure evil. He was later ousted from power and was exiled first to Libya and then to Saudi Arabia where Saudi royal family provided him refuge. Amin died a natural death … not exactly the ending he deserved.