This was an excellent week for this dork for many reasons. As always, let me start with the movie reviews.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: More rip-roaring adventures on the fantastically weird seas. If you enjoyed the first three, you should find plenty to like here. Depp and Rush take the front seat here and they’re good. Even Penelope Cruz, who I haven’t liked since first seeing in Belle Epoque (an otherwise great movie), is far less grating than usual. My one major complaint is that the romance between the young missionary and the mermaid is completely uninteresting and serves to detract from the rest of the film. The screen time would have been better served with more time for the villainous Ian McShane. Overall, a nice addition to the series.
Doctor Who: The Mutants: Again I’m glad to see Jon Pertwee in a story that takes him away from Earth. This time, in the far future, he’s dealing with a fading human empire and a weird, primitive world plagued by mutants. There are some very strange ideas, and the reveal is pretty cool. Well worth viewing, and as they get away from the mostly Earth-bound years of Pertwee, the stories start to feel more like what you’d expect from the Tom Baker years. A great supporting cast help this story out, as well.
Doctor Who: Frontier in Space: Wow. This story just keeps going and going. And then it has another few episodes. It’s not bad, and I think had I watched it an episode a week, I’d have liked it a lot. But, watching it in one go is a slog. I could have dealt without the Master, frankly. But the rest of it is pretty good. It’s just really, really long.
Attack the Block: What happens when a bunch of nasty ape-dog things drop on some projects in London? The local hoodlums may just have to step up to the plate and learn how to be men. This movie balances humor with horror extremely well, mixing in a good dose of excitement and some genuine characters. Yes, you’ve got to deal with accents and slang. Deal. It’s worth it.
Hobo With a Shotgun: If you dig the shocking and degenerate antics of the early days of Troma, you’ve got to check out Hobo With a Shotgun. Feeling like it was made in 1985, with some John Carpenter style synth music, plenty of goofy gore, and some delightfully off key dialog, it’s a blast for fans of that certain vibe. If you’re easily offended, well, what are you doing even thinking about watching this? Otherwise, check out some madness from our neighbors to the north. And yes, Rutger Hauer has still got it.
Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice: More medieval investigations from the good Brother Cadfael. Is his young friend Brother Oswin a murdering rapist? Who is the mysterious woodsman? And can a band of murderous bandits be stopped? All will be revealed with a little sleuthing, a touch of politics, and some fancy sword work. Sadly, Sean Pertwee’s short tenure as Hugh Beringar is over by this episode, being replaced here by Eoin McCarthy.
Kung Fu Panda 2: As with the first film, this manages to be both a fun kids film and a solid homage to classic martial arts cinema. Like Jet Li in Tai-Chi Master, Po must learn Inner Peace before he can triumph over evil. Lots of fantastic fighting, beautiful animation, and surprisingly witty humor (mixed with some more typical slapstick) make for a fine family film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Undercurrent: Katherine Hepburn is the tomboyish daughter of a fun old scientist. When a dashing industrialist sweeps her off her feet, life seems pretty grand. But the shadow of a long lost brother haunts her new love. Who is this mysterious and hated man? As Hepburn struggles to find out, we see a great deal of tension as hidden histories come near the surface. Is Mike dead? Was he a thief? A monster? The actual reveal interesting, I guess. But in truth, the finale is kind of limp and overlong. Part of the problem is that Hepburn starts out as an interesting, potentially strong character, but devolves into a screeching damsel.
So I managed to get out and see four movies this week, which is a rare treat indeed. One of those was the special showing of Attack the Block, which my fellow Dork, Brad and I saw in DC at the pretty nice little Regal theater right by Chinatown on 7th Street NW. It was fun to take a trip into DC via the metro line, where the people watching is always a lot of fun. In spite of living so close, I don’t actually get in to DC that often, and usually by car late at night for some midnight show at E Street. The other especially cool viewing was of the soon to be cult classic Hobo with a Shotgun which Brad and I got to see at the West End Cinema on 23rd Street NW. A fun little hole in the wall theater with a very friendly guy working the counter. It looks like their general fodder is a touch high-brow for me, but I’ll keep my eye out for upcoming stuff. I’d like to go back. And, I got some free popcorn on the way out, which was an extra pleasant ending to a cool film.
I’ve also been enjoying a bunch of music. Thanks to my old chum Joe, I picked up Oh Land’s US debut CD. And I’ve been listening to a bunch of Goldfrapp, too. Kind of a retro-80s vibe to the music this week. And Garfunkel and Oats put out a new song, too. Oh, those girls are so perverse.
Sadly, I did not finish any books this week (close, though). I did read a bit of the 70s Conan newspaper strip. That was fun, though it's the goofy Marvel-style Conan I'm not as much of a fan of.