THE WITZELSUCHT MEMORANDUM
"The Official House Organ of the One World Government"
ISSUE 22: Week of First Half o'June '98!
WIT MEMO'S FIRST MOVIE REVIEW
WIT MEMO finally saw the budget-busting blockbuster "GODZILLA," and we're so angry we had to drink a WATER GLASS OF MAKER'S MARK just to steady our nerves.
We'd expected something along the lines of TITANIC: the terrible consequences visited upon humankind for presuming to dominate mother nature, with a hokey love story between improbable characters thrown in as a nod to the distaff date movie market. But whereas TITANIC was a triumph of painstaking realism -it was like you were really ON the Titanic- this new "Godzilla" utterly fails in every way, shape, and form to measure up to or bear any passing resemblance to the REAL Godzilla.
And make no mistake, there IS a REAL Godzilla, the 400-foot tall Japanese monster whose filmography comprises a canon as varied and deep as Sherlock Holmes'. Through countless Saturday morning and late-night tv sessions we came to know and love a dinosaur-like H-bomb-test mutant who, despite being played by a man in a rubber suit, displayed a distinct personality and an uncanny sense of showmanship. He responded to our cheers by coming into his own as the films progressed, increasingly exhibiting surprising dramatic panache and snap comic timing. His character gradually softened from destroyer of all humanity to the familiar big ol' lug whom all Japan came to regard with a wistful mixture of affection and grudging respect for the way he saved their skin from other, meaner monsters trying to cut in on his turf . . . even as he flattened their cities as reliably as clockwork. Reflecting this change in personality, his facial physiognomy over time became flatter, rounder, less predatory, exactly the way MICKEY MOUSE's snout was shortened after market research showed children frightened by his originally pointy, rat-like schnozz.
So it was a given that the producers and their big-bucks special-effects "houses" had some mighty big paws to fill, and WIT MEMO didn't expect the new Godzilla to live up to the old one's high standards anymore than ROGER MOORE or TIMOTHY DALTON could take SEAN CONNERY's place in our heart. But instead of at least paying even minimal homage to the fine old tradition of Godzilla, the makers of the new movie have stomped that tradition into the ground, shat on it, and then used it to wipe their fat smug pompous behinds.
The new Godzilla's biggest offense springs from what may be called the Spielbergization of dinosaurs, that is, the boneheaded insistence that screen 'saurs must now resemble "real" dinosaurs, or what this week's crop of "experts" claim dinosaurs really looked like -- even though none of them were around during the time of Fred Flintstone to provide an eyewitness account. Turns out, they tell us, dinosaurs really weren't dinosaurs at all. They were birds. So instead of walking upright like the dinosaurs of our youth, they stoop forward, tails aloft, backs parallel to the ground, strutting about with the nervous, herky-jerky movements of a chicken pecking for grubs in a barnyard. Sadly, the new Godzilla is cast squarely in this ignoble mold; it's impossible, for instance, to tell if he measures up to the real Godzilla's mind-boggling 400 feet, because he just never, ever stands up straight (his mother would be so embarrassed)! Why, in one scene, he actually leans down and looks MATTHEW BRODERICK (in the JEFF GOLDBLUM role) RIGHT IN THE EYE, NOSE TO NOSE. Can you imagine the REAL Godzilla ever stooping so low? Of course not: he never would've dreamed of dignifying our inferior species with that kind of individual attention.
It's an outrage. This isn't Godzilla. Godzilla didn't walk hunched over like an old man with lumbago. The REAL Godzilla stood tall and proud, and he strode with the stately, deliberate gait of a portly captain of industry, a potentate, an emir. But despite his unhurried stride, he had a wry sense of humor: he'd make you think that he'd forgotten about that one building left standing during his stroll of destruction -he'd passed it by- when BAM! He got it with his tail! The new Godzilla, on the other hand, barely flattens a skyscraper; in fact, most of the damage ensues from friendly fire, shot after shot improbably misses as the fake Godzilla skips, leaps, dances and minces out of harm's way just like a participant in a JOHN WOO gunfight. You'd think he could have done a little more damage, given that NY was not as prepared as Tokyo, which in the real Godzilla movies was always encircled by a ring of high-tension wires just to guard against monsters (they never worked, but you had to give the Japanese credit for trying). And then, faced with mere bullets and the stray chopper-launched missile, the phony Godzilla actually turns tail and RUNS AWAY! He runs away! Then he finally gets entangled in a few bridge cables -bridge cables, for pete's sake- and is done in by a brief salvo of sidewinder missiles.
The REAL Godzilla never ran from a fight, he never ran away from a fight in his life! Why, he never ran at all, there was just no need to! He was impervious to missiles and swatted away entire fighter squadrons like clouds of mosquitos at a 4th-of-July picnic. The bogus Godzilla disappears into the sewers and makes his lair inside Madison square garden; the REAL Godzilla didn't feel any need to hide in human wastes -who would he be hiding from?- and he woulda scraped Madison Square Garden from between his toes. And as if the movie couldn't sink any lower, it climaxes in a shameless rip-off of the velociraptor scene from JURASSIC PARK, as the stars -including some French guy whose presence is never clearly explained- scramble to escape the hungry clutches of a few hundred 9-foot newly hatched baby Godzillas. Be clear about one thing: pursuit by a bunch of 9-foot lizards is NOT a Godzilla movie. And the real Godzilla didn't lay 200 eggs; like his partial namesake, he had just ONE son . . . the SON OF GODZILLA, who was as cute as a button and had all Japan cooing and awwwing themselves silly.
There's more (like what about Godzilla's fire breath?) but WIT MEMO just can't go on. Suffice to say that despite the millions of dollars of special effects poured into making the new Godzilla come to life, he doesn't display anywhere near the dramatic range or expressive nuance of the original. He's all technical wizardry with no sense of entertainment, it's like asking MICHAEL FLATLEY to step in for SAMMY DAVIS, JR. And the biggest irony is, out of all the animatronic, computerized options available to them, the producers settled on a monster with basically human proportions . . . meaning that this Godzilla could theoretically have been played by a man in a rubber suit!! It's a shame he wasn't. Bottom line, the TACO BELL COMMERCIALS were better than the movie. (They should team that Chihuahua with the REAL Godzilla . . . THAT would be a movie!) Now, where's that Maker's Mark?
SHOES ACROSS AMERICA (Formerly TRAVEL DIARY)
In Shoes Across America, WIT MEMO takes a loving look at the back roads and by waters of these-here United States. So fish a cold Nehi out of the icebox while Zeke puts your car on the lift and changes the air in your tires, pull up a cracker barrel, and swap a yarn from the road of the sights and sounds of this country we call a country.
WIT MEMO recently went on the road to . . . ATLANTA!! The Gateway to the South, the Sunshine City. Here's the STRAIGHT SKINNY. THE SIGHTS: Atlanta is a regular culture capital, chock-a-block full o'museums, the most unique of which is the COCA-COLA MUSEUM, there's just nothing like it anywhere else. That alone justifies the SIX BUCK admission. OK, so maybe visitors to DC's National Gallery of Art can view Picasso, Van Gogh, and the incredible Calder exhibit gratis, but you can see that stuff in ANY museum! It's NOT TRUE, as WIT MEMO had been told, that the Coca-Cola museum makes no mention of the presence of cocaine in the original recipe; old advertisements on display proudly tout the "salutary properties" of the "extracts of the South American coca plant" and its efficacy in "combating fatigue." But you'll find no hint anywhere of the NEW COKE debacle of a few years ago; although an employee in the self-serve tasting room did say that new coke still has a loyal following in Chicago, before being hustled off by security. There's two tasting rooms, actually; every ten minutes one is closed so its sticky floor can be cleaned by an unusual, Zamboni-like machine that must be unique in this world. Across the street is the ATLANTA UNDERGROUND, the only part of the downtown to escape being burned by ALAN SHERMAN, but seeing the way it's been turned into yet another collection of "shops" ala BALTIMORE'S INNER HARBOR -the same speciality stores, the same pushcarts selling sunglasses and those squiggly shoelace replacements- you have to think that the rest of the town got the better end of THAT deal. We also got to see the park where THAT FAT GUY tried to blow up the Olympics. THE FOOD: Peaches, peaches, peaches! Peaches are the order of the day, consumed in all kinds of mouth waterin' recipes! Sliced peaches, poached peaches, peaches thermidor, kung pao peaches, a mess o'chicken-fried peaches, and Chicago-style deep-dish peaches, WIT MEMO never got tired, yum! ENTERTAINMENT: Here we were let down. We'd hoped to see some of the famous old clubs were BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and FRANK SINATRA got their starts, but we couldn't find them, let alone the boardwalk where they're located. But fear not, WIT MEMO will be going back!
BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN DEPT.
We're given to understand that beginning this Friday, WIT MEMO's tale of travel to NEW YORK with the rock band KISMET (WIT MEMO 21) will be featured on the WASHINGTON CITY PAPER.com column, TOUR DIARY! AND remember, you read it hear first!
TOO COOL AND GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED!
WHAT evokes the ambience of spacily cool lounge and cocktail culture, costs millions of dollars, can be had for free, and is paid for the US GOVERNMENT to boot? It's the ALEXANDER CALDER exhibit at the EAST WING of the NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART! It's amazing, it's TOO hip, and it's only through July 12, so make sure this one doesn't slip away!
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