Sunday, May 22, 2011

Matt's Week in Dork (5/15/11-5/21/11)

The week started off pretty slow for this dork, but eventually I got my geek on.  As usual, first up, the movies.

Priest:  Not many things bore me more than vampires.  We get it.  They suck blood.  OK.  We don’t need another dozen or more films each year to remind us of this one simple thing.  That said, on those rare occasions when they’re actually used as monsters, and not stupidly romantic characters, I can accept them a bit more.  And that’s the case with Priest.  Nothing romantic about these beasts.  Just ugly, nasty, and kind of dumb.  In a setting that would make Judge Dredd feel at home, a bunch of super, martial art wielding priests have been typically betrayed by their masters, but must stand up and do the right thing.  The martial arts are sometimes wonky, and a couple actors (well, mostly just Cam “Torgo” Gigandet) are really terrible.  But, for a nice taste of over the top weird future, this isn’t too bad.

Vanishing on 7th Street:  Basically like a long episode of The Twilight Zone, this weird apocalyptic film is interesting, but not especially good.  Human annoyance Hayden Christensen probably turns in his best performance, being only mildly grating.  The characters are kind of typically dumb in that modern horror movie way and the ending feels like something of a copout.  But it could be worse.

The Minotaur’s Island:  Extremely enthusiastic historian Bettany Hughes gives a brief glimpse into ancient Crete and our understanding of Minoan civilization in this too short, two part documentary.  Hughes has an energy that is infectious and you can feel the passion she has for whatever subject she’s talking about, and this film is no exception.  Apparently, some viewers are bothered by the fact that she’s attractive, seeming to believe that only stodgy old men should present historic information, and only in the most dry and pedantic of ways.  I disagree, and hope that her passion will inspire younger viewers to look deeper into the wonders of history.

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship:  An amazing stop-motion telling of the classic Russian folktale, this was one of my favorites as a lad.  Fantastic creativity and beautiful imagery.  For fans of medieval fairy tales and such, this is a must.

How to Loose Friends and Alienate People:  Fitfully funny, often painful, this movie is never quite what I expected it to be.  Corporate climbing, soul selling, back stabbing, and the pompousness of celebrity culture are all taken though the expected wringer.  But the surprising thing is the characters themselves, who are all a bit deeper and multi-faceted than one would think.  It gets a bit sappy at times, but it’s still pretty enjoyable.

Wings of Desire:  At once melancholic and joyful, this weird movie about angels curiously investigating humanity seems to be more about Germany in general and Berlin specifically trying to understand itself.  Haunted by the memories and scars of World War II, the past seems to be just under the surface of everything.  Bruno Ganz manages to maintain a strange sense of childlike wonder mixed with cosmic knowledge.  While his friend, played by Otto Sander seems to be burning out, losing his wonder and seeing only the sad and the depressing.  And Peter Falk, playing himself, working on a film in Berlin is a strangely compelling force, too.  I haven’t seen City of Angels, but I can only imagine it missed any points this film was trying to make.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor:  I didn’t think too much of the first Mummy movie when it first came out, though I came to enjoy it after further viewing.  I enjoyed the wacky, over the top fantasy stuff in the second film.  But this movie is the pulp adventure I wanted the first two to be.  Still a bit more comic relief than I prefer, but it’s not too bad.  And though I love and miss Rachel Weisz, I really like the addition of Maria Bello.  Plus, I’m always happy to see Michelle Yeoh.  This isn’t amazing cinema, but it’s goofy fun.

Creature from the Black Lagoon:  This and King Kong always vie for my affections.  They are two of my favorite monster movies of all time.  Both feature primeval monsters who are brought low by a beautiful dame.  The Creature, or Gill-Man is a compelling monster, both hideous and sympathetic.  And the cast of characters is a good motley crew.  A must for creature feature fans.

I also sampled an episode of The Love Boat, a show I hadn’t seen since it was still in production.  TV was different then.  I certainly don’t mean better.  But different.  Oh, how I don’t miss the laugh track.  Then I managed to slip in a couple episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where I learned that the Hammer of Justice is unisex.

As for books, I read Conan: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories.  Great stuff, which you can read more about in my review.

For music, I’ve been chilling out to the smooth sounds of Maria Muldaur.


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