360

360

In which playwright Topher Payne and  photographer/writer Brandon Barr review the trailer for the movie 360.

TOPHER

You know how people bitch about trailers giving away the plot of the movie? Well, congratulations, filmmakers. I have no idea what the hell this movie is about. There’s like a mail-order bride story, Anthony Hopkins is doing a really lazy version of the plot from Taken, Ben Foster’s playing Chester the Molester, and they’ve spliced in Jude Law’s scenes from Closer, only without Julia Roberts. Okay, I’m actually cool with that last part, but everything else has me flummoxed.

But my real issue is the tagline. “You only live once. How many chances do you get? 360.” Seriously? They’re providing an answer to that question? A really, really specific numeric answer? Who decides when you’ve used up a chance? If I see an ad for Chico’s, and they tell me it’s my last chance to take advantage of storewide savings, but I’m not in the market for ladies’ sportswear, does that count against my allotment? Because if so, I’m calling shenanigans on that shit. I’m kinda pissed at Ben Foster, because I was totally hot for him as Angel in X-Men. But in every movie after that he’s been trying like hell to make himself as fugly as possible. He’s used up about three hundred of his chances with me, so he really needs to get his shit back in one sneaker. People who are capable of hotness really have a moral obligation to maintain that, ya know? I don’t know what you’re into- if it’s ladies then my frustration with Ben Foster is probably akin to your bewilderment at whatever happened to Jenna Jameson.

BRANDON

I woke up with a fugly haircut like Ben Foster’s once in grad school. I groaned myself awake, wearing an extra-small Jagermeister tank top, several hair-clipper head wounds, and a month’s worth of regret. “It’s going to be quite a shock, being on the outside, with all the temptations.” I feel you, Foster. Just stay the hell away from the Jager.

Bad haircuts and regret aside, Ben’s character is the one that gives me some hope for this movie. I mean, what sort of an institution is he being released from exactly? My hope is that that all that whitewall, security, and bad haircuts means it’s mental institution, and that Foster’s character, like the protagonist of Nabokov’s “Signs and Symbols,” is suffering from a paranoid sense of reality. My hope is he is in this institution because he believes that he is a primary character in an “independent Hollywood” art-house character drama in which the details of every disparate character’s life is inextricably intertwined with the others. Every person he bumps into in the street, every little girl he sees on the sidewalk, every hooker he gets a hotel room with and caresses with a knife while she sleeps – they are all narratively connected to him. His belief that “everyone is connected” drives him crazy with the potential narrative epiphanies and surprising zinger climaxes that can occur at any given second. He was fine in the safe, blank walls of the hospital. But now they’ve released him into some Babel-meets-21-Grams mess of a world in which Anthony Hopkins is quoting some young girl from Brazil he sat with on a flight to a televised press conference. And he’s going to destroy this narrative trope from the inside out.

At least, I hope that’s it. Because if this is just another movie that’s using the disparate-stories-connected-by-some-twist-of-fate scriptwriting trick to create a compartmentalized set of mini-dramas that make it easier to get A-list actors to agree to do the movie because they see it as their yearly Oscar bait and professional validation after doing the Hollywood schlock that pays for their Maseratis and cocaine, then I just might scream. Peter Morgan and Fernando Meirelles, you’re better than that. Aren’t you?

TOPHER

It’s a little known-fact, but about eight years ago there was this big party at a private estate in Cabo San Lucas, and some pretty freaky shit went down. Hookers, little people, truffle oil wrestling, a camel act, recreations of Bosch paintings- Now, at this party Paul McCartney up and died a violent, juicy death. It was this horrifying PCP-induced blood orgy. Anyway, the maniacal billionaire  who owned the estate got it all on tape. He agreed to cover the crime, in an ironic twist of urban legend fate, by replacing Paul with a lookalike, which was fairly easy because his housekeeper Mrs. Mackintosh already bore a striking resemblance to the former Wings frontman. But here’s where it gets odd:

All the guests who’d killed Paul were forced to suffer a cruel fate: You see, all the guests were actors. In order to toy with them, for his own maniacal delight, the billionaire required that any script they were offered, for the rest of their lives, they had to accept sight unseen. No exceptions.

I’m not saying Anthony Hopkins and Jude Law were at that party, thus explaining not only this film but the last eight years of their careers.  And I’m not saying there’s uneasy glances whenever they run into Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry.  But I am totally saying those things.

All of these actors seemed to be living completely different lives, only tangentially interacting, until that fateful third-act twist when they killed Paul McCartney.  But looking back, there were clues we should have seen, like how Halle Berry called Anthony Hopkins “A-Dawg” in phone calls, so we didn’t know she was talking to Anthony Hopkins.  Their fate, being forced to do film after crappy film for all eternity, is like an extended metaphor for the futility of our existence.  Which leads me to wonder, how many chances do we get?

Also, there were two other pairs of bloody hands at the Paul McCartney kill-fest.  Can you guess? Can you?

BRANDON

Jesus, Topher. I don’t know why I didn’t put this together before now. Maybe you look different when you’re not in your cater-waiter whites. Or maybe I don’t like admitting that my life has become a scriptwriter’s wet dream. But that was you replacing the tiny empanadas on the buffet line, wasn’t it? I remember catching your eye as I mixed Pisco Sours for A-Dawg and Halle. Little did I know that those empanadas would play such a significant role in Sir McCartney’s gruesome death. Or that this terribly self-important film trailer would appear on the internet eight years to the day – nay, to the minute! – of the Cabo Carnivale. Or that that maniacal billionaire, in order to escape certain death at the hands of cartel leader El Chapo for skipping out on his massive PCP bill, would start a second life as an Atlanta writer named Jason Mallory and create a move-trailer review site that would ultimately bring back together the two people who shoved empanadas down Paul McCartney’s gullet until his intestines bled out over Ms. Berry’s Prada gown.

Is it possible that all the coincidences of the past eight years have been planned to bring us back together as the ultimate scriptwriting-moonlighting-as-cater-waiter celebrity murder duo, just in time for the Atlanta visit by the one actor who forced us to snuff the life out of Paul McCartney with fantastic deep fried pork? That’s right. Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman will soon be in Atlanta filming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire while on the phone with his agent to see what the next script is which he must blindly accept. For we are all cursed from that fateful, bloody Mexican night. And yet we are all blessed, too. After all, we may get 360 chances (thanks again for the spoiler, trailer!). But to murder the Kingpin of The Hollywood Indie Film while he’s watching a screening of 360 at the Midtown Art Cinema, wearing conspicuous sunglasses to hide from the prying eyes of the flannel-clad, Warby-Parker wearing masses? Topher, this may be the only chance we get.

[FIN]