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June 28, 2011

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January 30, 2011

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Burlesque: a bizarrely charming, strangely watchable pile of crap.

November 24, 2010

God knows Burlesque isn’t good. God knows Burlesque is the kind of mess that usually happens when Hollywood gets its hands on a hipster fad a couple years too late. It utterly fails at making the world of burlesque into an enchanting world of shadows in which nothing is as it seems. Things are pretty much as they seem in this movie. It’s not even that sexy, despite all the T and A and all the careful effort taken to package it. I don’t know why that is. It could be that this just wasn’t a very sexy movie, or maybe burlesque in general is too silly to be sexy. At any rate, many of the burlesque numbers stray pretty far from burlesque — would a burlesque show really feature three separate songs about burlesque? Would it feature a dozen women writhing all over a giant illuminated sign that reads “BURLESQUE”? These are the questions that don’t keep me up at night.

And it’s not a very tense movie. Yes, Cher’s burlesque club is in danger of shutting down — but there’s an offer on the table to buy it for $2 million. Back in Silicon Valley we called that “success”. Sure, Christina Aguilera has to work her way up from cocktail waitress to headliner, but there’s never any real question of her doing so, because she happens to dance and sing like Christina Aguilera. Cher, her supposedly tyrannical boss, and Kristen Bell, her supposedly ruthless rival, pretty much like her from the start. In fact, there’s no real professional rivalry at all. Bell, despite looking great in a nightie, apparently can’t sing, and Cher, despite being the only other great singer on screen, never attempts in earnest to keep the spotlight away from Aguilera. Thanks to the flat tone and crude pacing of the film, it doesn’t even seem to take that long. Even for a musical, this is fairly lightweight stuff.

But I couldn’t help liking it. The low stakes that make the movie uninspiring also make it endearing. It turns out there was room for a showbiz movie in which success isn’t very hard and everyone likes each other. First of all, there’s no reason Christina Aguilera shouldn’t be a burlesque superstar, and to dwell for too long on her rise to the top would be insulting. She lays waste to the stage, she grabs hold of notes and shakes them until they burst, she treats tiny, invasive dresses and giant puffy fans as if she’d been handling them all her life. And, sometime in the decade since her last big hit, she has learned to tease. After years of performing in a style we can politely call “anti-burlesque”, Aguilera has mastered the concept of restraint. So it’s not that incredible that her co-performers and her audience should embrace her so suddenly. It’s also plausible that everyone backstage should love each other so damn much, because they’re all sickeningly lovable. Stanley Tucci turns in a particularly fuzzy performance as Cher’s stage manager and platonic life partner, presumably a stand-in for all the gay men in the audience. Their chemistry miraculously enlivens even the dullest scenes in the movie. They joke and tease and flirt as if they really had known each other for years. Frankly, a lo-fi Clerks-style production about Tucci and Cher just hanging out would have been much more fun to watch, but maybe there was a production overrun at the makeup factory and they had to use it on something.

The rest of the cast gamely competes for attention with the main players, even though they maybe shouldn’t have bothered. Cam Gigandet, apparently a hot commodity (I’ve seen Twilight and I barely remember him) plays the guy Aguilera should end up with, even though there isn’t much to him beyond his smile. Eric Dane, of Grey’s Anatomy (whatever that is) plays the guy Aguilera shouldn’t end up with, even though he’s hilarious, charming and very, very rich. Alan Cumming doesn’t get nearly enough screen time as some kind of mascara-wearing burlesque-clown who’s actually as entertaining as the movie makes him out to be. Peter Gallagher’s cuddly as usual, playing Cher’s sweaty ex-husband. I wish there were more to say about the other burlesque girls, but one of the movie’s many failings is that it doesn’t really individuate the dancers’ stage personas, let alone their personalities. Awkwardly and inexplicably, the script tries to give a bigger role to a dancer named Coco (Chelsea Traille), by giving her all of the throwaway speaking lines and having other characters mention her at inappropriate moments. Also, one of them gets pregnant, because they had to fill some screentime. I don’t know.

Burlesque is one of those minor miracles of the screen, one of those movies you watch on a plane that turns out not to be so terrible, one of those movies that are enjoyable for reasons that are impossible to define in terms of other movies, one of those pleasant surprises that make life worth living. Just don’t watch it on purpose.


Issue 20-2 Now Available at squelched.com

October 30, 2010

Like the title says!


Issue 20-1 Now Available Online

September 6, 2010

Go to squelched.com to download the latest issue of the Heuristic Squelch. Do it! No pressure though!

Vol 20 Iss 1


Newsflash: Attack on U.N. Day Camp Traced to Rival Camp Northstar

June 30, 2010

The nighttime raid on a U.N.-run children’s camp in the Gaza Strip this week puzzled investigators until recently, when evidence emerged linking the attack to a scrappy band of militant misfits known only by the mysterious codename “Camp Northstar.” Led by the enigmatic mastermind “Al-Muri,” the group has been active in Gaza for years, orchestrating such attacks as 2003’s Peeing In Jerusalem’s Pools and the firebombing of the Fatah Rec Center.

One of the few images of the terrorist group at their training ground.

In a statement released to Al-Jazeera, Al-Muri crowed about the attack as “a glorious strike against the rich kids across the lake,” his typical epithet for the United States. “We shall never be defeated, for we shall win the Camp Olympiad for Allah and feast well upon the attendant pizza party!”

Al-Muri indoctrinates a young suicide wedgier.

U.N. officials downplayed the damage wrought by the attack, noting that all the lost equipment was easily replaceable and that their dad could afford it easy. Said Camp Director Chad Maxwell, “Those dumb Northstar militants think they can compete with this? They don’t even have a heated pool. Believe me, there’s nothing they can do to stop us from winning next month’s Camp Field Day.” Unbeknownst to Maxwell, his boxer shorts waved ominously from the flagpole behind him.

BELOW: Northstar militants sing one of their trademark anti-Western hate chants.


Film On Fine, I’ll Review Get Him To The Greek

June 15, 2010

First of all, to those of you looking for another solid summer comedy from Judd Apatow: go see it. Apatow remains in top form as the unopposed master of anatomy jokes. Dicks, vaginas, scat and vomit abound, usually landing on their comic target, except in an unfortunate scene of female-on-male rape as comedy – I knew we as a culture had not moved past it, but I hoped Apatow as godfather of American comedy had. Get Him To The Greek works out a tonal compromise between the fart-jokes-with-heart mood of most of Apatow’s former work and the melodrama-with-fart-jokes of Funny People. Apatow seems to have retreated from the Chaplinesque sentimentality he reached for with Funny People, but Get Him To The Greek is some of his most emotionally mature work yet.

Emotionally mature.

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IRL News: Vote Jerry Brown because it would be hilarious

June 9, 2010

Here at the Squelch, we often write about politics from the perspective of any other jackass college student. We try to do our research and make our ideas entertaining, but we have nothing invested in the system and no idea how it really works. There’s no way you’re going to take us seriously when you know we’ll be tearing your movie tickets in twenty years. We expect no more gratifying role in our culture than that of the village idiot, parading his mental defects before a mirthlessly laughing crowd. You are correct that most of our “political” opinions have to do with legalizing weed. But once in a while, a story comes along that’s exactly our department. Once in a while, our long hours of sculpting the perfect fart joke place us among the most qualified people in the world to comment on an event. And today, our time has come. As a two-year veteran maker-funner-of of things, I can tell you with perfect certainty that Meg Whitman needs to lose this election.

get the money, dolla dolla bill yalllll

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Weekend Video Jamboree – 5/2/10

May 2, 2010

Oh, man, we haven’t done this in a while.  Here’s a bunch of videos that are cool, I guess.

You’re Doing It Wrong

This video is amazing.  It’s the essence of documentary filmmaking: raw video with as little editing or narrative intervention as possible, but with a clearly established thesis.  Plus it’s got people doin’ a bunch of goofy bonehead crap!!


Parrot Dancing to Dubstep

I don’t care, it’s a parrot, and it’s dancing.


Excusememamwhereisthebathroom: Answer the Door

There’s a whole genre of Youtubes based on hideous CGI animation programs and their inexplicable results, and this is one of the more painstaking products of that movement.  A lot of it is pretty “lol random monkey cheese”, but there’s a few random pockets of quality to be found as well.  Please to enjoy: whatever this is.


A Bunch Of Spiders Or Whatever These Are

Apparently their more accepted name is Harvestman!  Here is all of them ever to exist on one tree!


A Bunch Of These Hilarious Audition Video Things

These are the best watch them.

This one is the best of them all, just fyi:


All right, that’s it ya goobers, see ya next week !!!