While I got some movie watching in, and it was an oddly busy week for me, it wasn’t an especially good week in Dorkness. Most of my movie watching was on the 4th, when I didn’t have any functions to attend, and threw myself a little party, thankful for a day of downtime. And so, the movies…
Double Indemnity: Fred MacMurray turns in a surprisingly lively performance as severely corruptible man who meets the wrong kind of woman. One of the classic Film Noir movies, it involves insurance fraud, murder, sex and all sorts of dirty deeds. Good stuff. I love that MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are not especially attractive leads, but that works for the reality of it, even with the stylized visuals. And Edward G. Robinson is typically charming as he shifts from leading roles to supporting performances.
Lost Highway: Hands down my favorite David Lynch film, everything is just spot on here. Great characters, great performances, two tons of crazy, excellent sound track, and more questions than you can shake a stick at. Don’t ask me to explain it. Why does Frank become Pete? How? I don’t know. What’s the deal with Alice, or is it Renee (“Are both of them you?”)? Who is the Mystery Man? I know, we’ve met before…at my house. Some shocking violence, uncomfortable and somewhat creepy sex, back stabbing, murder, and super-nuts jazz sax. Don’t tailgate. Don’t murder your wife in a fit of jealous rage. Do not talk to pale guys with no eyebrows. And above all, don’t get mixed up with the scary blond trophy wife of a porn producing gangster. And never stay at the Lost Highway Hotel.
Black Panther: This animated series had a lot of potential, but generally didn’t live up. Awkwardly tied to the rest of the Marvel Universe, it never seems to give a good sense of the world it inhabits. I’d have rather the writers spent more time on life in Wakanda and the adventures of the Black Panther than on the ‘evil white man’ stories. The animation style is interesting, but weird, looking kind of like a motion comic. I’d really like to see this get a better treatment. The Panther is a cool character and I think could make a really awesome animated hero. Maybe one day it’ll get a better take.
Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde: Very low budget, and not really especially good, this movie is made surprisingly entertaining by an excellent cast, especially the always awesome Bernie Casey. For whatever reason, the mix of horror and Blaxploitation never really worked. Like Blacula and others, this is worth watching, but not a particularly good film.
The Right Stuff: THE epic of the American Space Race, The Right Stuff features a fantastic cast of actors playing an amazing group of people. Pioneers of the future, they were also just people doing their jobs. Crazy though those jobs may have been. Filled with humor, daring do, thrills, tears and joy, the movie is a grand and beautiful vision. More than worthy of its status as a film classic, it should be seen. An inspiration.
Starcrossed: A cute, if completely forgettable movie about an alien woman and a doofy young man and the romance that buds between them. There’s not much to recommend it. But if you enjoy very, very 80s films or the performances of a young James Spader, then check this one out.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Season One-Part Two: More of that particular 60s fueled DC madness that is The Brave and the Bold, if you love the madcap, Adam West type, crazy comic book stories, this is a must. Great villains, great heroes, and some super-zany antics. From space to the bottom of the sea, and everywhere else, Batman sees it all, and then some.
The God Who Wasn’t There: The interview subjects, especially Sam Harris, are interesting, but this is not a very good ‘documentary.’ It’s more of a polemic against his Christian upbringing. I certainly agree with much of what he says, and he brings up some interesting points. But you only get maybe 10 minutes of anything worth your time. And most of that you can see if you look up Sam Harris on YouTube.
TrollHunter: What is up with those crazy Scandinavians? They sure do make interesting movies. From Rare Exports to Dead Snow, they’re taking chances and making magic. TrollHunter is the best ‘found footage’ movie I’ve seen to this point. Good characters, fun story, great dark humor. It’s not as cool as Rare Exports, but it’s a sure fire cult hit.
American Experience: Riding the Rails: A fascinating, but perhaps too brief, look at a particular group of people at a very particular time in America’s history. Those young people who climbed up on train cars and rode from one part of the country to another, living a strange, free, dangerous life filled with adventure and suffering. I was impressed by the excellent interviewees, each an amazing storyteller in their own right. This is a must for someone interested in the time period. The little glimpses into the lives of such different people, all driven by chaotic times, are sometimes painful, sometimes wistful, but often tinged with a sort of subtle danger.
Watchmen: I don’t care what the purists, say, this adaptation of the classic graphic novel is frickin’ amazing. Grand in scope, gorgeous in execution, it is grim, violent, and ugly. But it’s also sad, wondrous, and strangely uplifting. Broken heroes, heroic villains, pathetic shells of former glory. It’s packed with great characters, great quotes, and amazing action sequences. And yes, the end of the graphic novel has been altered. However, I think the new ending perfectly fits with the story, and has an effect quite similar to the original. Not for the feint of heart, if you’re willing to take the challenge, this film is plenty rewarding.
Gamer: The Crank Boys take on Rollerball-type dystopian films in this extremely frenetic and bleak action film. Extreme sports and ‘reality’ TV, along with internet anonymity are mainlined into your brain. It’s brutal and nasty. And it certainly takes a grim view of our disconnected voyeuristic society. The movie has less humor than the Crank films, and feels more angry. But, perhaps that’s good for the subject matter. Great cast. Excellent action. But not for everyone.
I got in a few episodes of Stingray and watched the first disk (of three) of the old British miniseries, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. So far, to good. But the plot hasn’t really taken off yet. Hopefully have that finished by the next Week in Dork.
I grabbed the fourth volume of the Hellboy Library Edition series, but won’t be reading that right off. In fact, I got very little reading of any kind done this week. I got some biking in, but wasn’t feeling well, so didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.
On the music front, I’m checking out Lykke Li. So far, I’m digging it, but haven’t had a lot of time to listen. And then, after hearing Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King during the credits for TrollHunter, I got the hankering for some Scandinavian orchestral music, so I started listening to some Grieg and Nielsen. Great stuff.