Monday, February 11, 2008

The Brad Renfro Retrospective; Or How I Was A Total Idiot and Put Mischa Barton on My Ghoul Pool


As you may be able to ascertain from the title, I am not the best person to offer an attempted tribute for Brad Renfro. I've seen six of his movies, which is probably on par or slightly better than most people, though it's by no means a significant percentage of his actual films. Also, the only reason Brad has even entered my mind in the last decade is because he and Edward Furlong have been swapping positions as my under-30 celebrity pick for my dad's ghoul pool for the last several years until THIS year, when I decided that Brad had avoided a heroin OD up to this point and was likely to continue the trend. This was incorrect and delusional, and I take full responsibility for it. My thought going into the 2008 ghoul pool (if you visit the pool, my list is under "redsantapoop") was that statistically speaking, it was far more likely that a celebrity would get drunk and kill themselves in a smashup than to actually go by way of the cliche drug overdose. However, Mischa still has over 10 months to prove me a genius.

The only reason to watch any part of The OC Season 2.

Brad Renfro's debut was in "The Client," where he spends roughly half the movie stealing Mary Louise Parker's cigarettes and running away from Tommy Lee Jones. Who DOESN'T do that? While I hesitate to endorse an adaptation of a John Grisham novel - a concept that involves dumbing down legalese to the point of being completely unrecognizable - it IS a good movie, and quite a bit of that is due to Mr. Renfro. There is also a creepy scary person with a gymormous wart on his face who tries to kill Brad in an autopsy amphitheater, which fostered a childhood fear of people with facial growths, but surprisingly, not of darkened corpse-strewn rooms in hospital basements. I was also scared of rabid raccoons. From my DARE classes (I'm probably the only person in the history of DARE to credit those classes for not turning me into a junkie), I know that some of the shizzle Brad smokes in this is a GATEWAY drug. It was only a matter of time.

I think he's in Susan Sarandon's law office, where she takes his case (because he's "the client," get it?) for $1. If only eye doctors cost that little. Frown.

After a very impressive debut, akin to Portman's entrance in The Professional, Brad decided to make one of The Greatest Movies Ever with one of The Best Child Stars Ever - The Cure with Joseph Mazzello. Aside from Beaches, Arnold Schwarzenegger's death scene in Terminator 2 and Macauley Culkin's unfortunate encounter with a beehive, nothing is more soul-wrenching than dying childhood BFF movies involving AIDS. I don't want to ruin this amazingness in the unlikely situation that someone reads this and wants to see it, but there is a scene involving a sneaker and a coffin that just wrecks life. Also, because I just mentioned Natalie Portman, I opened up another tab to check on natalieportman.com, and someone wrote a VERY nasty review of her upcoming movie The Other Boleyn Girl:
This is the second misguided historical project for Natalie Portman after the disastrous response to Milos Forman's "Goya's Ghosts" last year.

That movie WAS horrible. It involved Portman wandering around Inquisition-era Spain with a broken jaw and a skin disease.

For TWO HOURS.

I saw Tom and Huck at my chum Alexis' house in 1996, and I remember nothing except the sumptuous Doritos feast we had during its duration. After my braces came off in 1999, I suddenly had no desire to eat them ever again, much like my two-month fascination with Sudoku in 2004. It probably was not a very good movie, and I couldn't even tell you (without cheating) which one Brad Renfro played. I CAN tell you that Jonathan Taylor Thomas, hunkified prepubescence from the mid-90s, played whichever character Brad Renfro didn't. Seeing as how JTT was being propagated as noble purity and Renfro had already been typecast as a bad seed with a Tennessean accent, I'm guessing Brad played Huck. But weren't both characters kind of bad? I recall Tom manipulating his peers to whitewash his fence, similar to when I convinced some of my chums to plaster my dad's Playboy magazine centerfolds all over our neighbor's truck (which said neighbor NEVER complained about, by the way). As an aside, I had to do a book report on Huckleberry Finn when I was in sixth grade, and coincidentally, every single incident I documented from the book was also in the Elijah Wood movie, which I didn't even know existed. A bunch of kids in my class accused me of cheating, and I was hardcore offended at the idea that I would nefariously choose to not read a classic work of literature. It still rankles me to this day.

The more I look at JTT, the more I feel like a hypocrite for teasing my friends for having crushes on the feminine Taylor Hanson.

Even though The Client is fairly dark, it looks positively fluffy in contrast to Sleepers, which is one of the most inhumanly depressing/disturbing movies ever. I often cite it when discussing how it's probably not coincidental that Kevin Bacon has made multiple child molester movies. While technically not a bad movie, how many times can you watch Kevin Bacon imploring 11-year-old boys to do dirty things to him? This is probably Brad Pitt's least aesthetically pleasing role because the makeup people didn't know how to obscure the pits in his face. I remember thinking that HD was going to be the death of Brad Pitt, but that doesn't appear to have actually happened. I'm not sure why. Anyway, a solid Renfro effort, though I remember having mixed feelings about the movie as a whole. For other Bacon pedophile movies, see The Woodsman.

Come on Kyra, you're the closer - you MUST see what's happening here.

Although Apt Pupil doesn't have child anal rape (a real bonus, in my view), it DOES have crazy Nazi Ian McKellen mistaking a stray cat for a Holocaust survivor and trying to bake it in his oven, thus ensuring that I will never see that movie again. While it's made fairly clear that Renfro has some Nazi sympathies, as shown by his drawing swastikas in his school notebook, I had the feeling that the novel made him out to be far less curious and innocent, and more like...you know, barbecuing cats and whatnot. Speaking of things in your school notebook that you shouldn't put down, I had an incident in my middle school science class that people still tease me about to this day. Do you remember those special Crayola markers? One of them was "invisible," and you could write things with it and then make it appear by coloring over it with another marker. While I was doing my homework one night, I wrote "Help! Mrs. Eberly has me trapped in the school!" in invisible marker and then colored it and made it visible. Now, I don't recall actually having any problem with this teacher, other than the fact that she had blue gums and a gummy smile, which was...not cool. Of course, the next day, my notebook is open to that page and Mrs. Eberly sees it and asks, "What does that say?" I looked down at it, and then looked up. "What does WHAT say?" She frowned and pointed. I looked down again. "I don't see anything." This went back and forth for about three minutes, whereupon she finally just scowled and decided to talk about the epidermis or something. A fine moment in my past.

Not as cool as a Mitt Romney mitt, but cool nonetheless.

Ghost World is not really a Brad Renfro movie as it is a Thora Birch/Scarlett Johansson sarcastic-thon. Though it's only about three years after Apt Pupil, Renfro already has a receding hairline and looks like a drug addict. Though that in itself is fairly disturbing (though given the dark content of many of his earlier films, not that surprising), what left a bad taste in my mouth was the Steve Buscemi sex scene. Ann Coulter wrote a rather insightful piece (I think I just lost half my fanbase for linking to her) after Halle Berry stole an Oscar from Sissy Spacek on Hollywood's proclivity to allowing certain actors to engage in carnal lust activities, whereas others just don't. You'd think Steve would be in that category, and yet that's not the case.
Yes, at long last, the "glass ceiling" had been broken. Large-breasted, slightly cocoa women with idealized Caucasian features finally have a chance in Hollywood! They will, however, still be required to display their large breasts for the camera and to discuss their large breasts at some length with reporters. Thus, Berry has explained her philosophy on nude scenes, saying: "(I)f it's what the character would do, then I'd use my body in any way that would best serve that character." This, she said, is her "strong belief." But what does it mean, exactly? Don't all people undress sometimes? All people pick their noses, but vapid Hollywood actresses don't insist on showing us that in every movie on the grounds that it is "what the character would do." In fact, Berry's unseemly enthusiasm for displaying "these babies," as she genteelly refers to her breasts, reduces roles for any women who lack Berry's beauty queen features. If movies must include soft porn scenes, the audience is entitled to demand performers with sexual characteristics they would like to see in a soft porn movie. Somehow, characters played by Whoopi Goldberg are never the sorts of characters who would do things in real life like undress or have sex.


In conclusion, I promise I won't link or quote Ann Coulter at length again, unless it involves Halle Berry or something non-right wing hate speech.

RIP Brad Renfro, though I think you kind of brought it on yourself.


Ariel Sharon, however, is NOT dead. Live on, you crazy cat!

8 Comments:

At 7:52 AM, OpenID golexis said...

hahaha i remember that from 6th grade science class. i think every class i had with you involved some incident of me trying not to laugh hysterically for fear of getting in trouble. that was one of those times.

i mean how could you be so resilient to maintain that you didn't actually see your marker scrawling across the page? hi-larious.

 
At 7:55 AM, OpenID golexis said...

p.s.- you inspired me to start a blog: golexis.wordpress.com

 
At 3:27 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Emma,

What a trip down memory lane....I was in mourning for Brad Renfo, too (RiP, one of my first childhood crushes) and this entry helped give me.....closure? As strange as that sounds. Anyway, excellent recap of his career. I especially enjoyed the interspersed middle school Emma trivia. I was caught in a similar situation to your invisible marker dilemma- imitating a teacher to amuse my classmmates not realizing that she was standing right behind me until she tapped me on the shoulder. Oops!! Anyway, she was a freak who let students make her cry with their 13 year-old criticism, so eff that.

Glad to see your journal is alive and well, I'll be visiting often!

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was JUST thinking about that day!!! I can't believe you tried to play dumb. I remember Chris Balshi was making fun of you afterwards because it was so obvious that you did not just write that note.

HYSTERICAL!!!!


~Richa

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger e.e.grimshaw said...

i would just like to point out that richa signed on under my username to delete comment #4 because she wanted to rewrite her comments. i wasn't denying someone their first amendment rights or anything to that effect.

 
At 10:30 PM, Blogger Karol said...

Who was he in Ghost World? Love interest of Scarlett?

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger e.e.grimshaw said...

i think he was just a platonic friend of theirs who worked at a 7-11esque store. BUT, my vegan roommate had a quote from that movie as her away message for months that was actually a note that thora wrote to brad when they couldn't find him:
Dear Josh, we came by to fuck you, but you were not home. Therefore... you are gay. Signed Tiffany, and Amber.

i thought her best away message was:
"lebron james versus teen wolf - think about it."

 

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