Sunday, August 14, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (8/7-8/13)

    Other than getting some solid biking in on a couple of amazingly nice days (finally, summer days like I used to enjoy for the first year and a half I lived in northern Virginia, as opposed to the rainy, humid days the last couple summers have foisted upon us), I didn’t get up to too much.  Did manage to get to the AFI Silver theater a couple times, which was a lot of fun.  Odd little town.  Anyway, the movies…

Miller’s Crossing:  Gangland fantasy at its coolest, Miller’s Crossing takes tough guy Gabriel Byrne through the ringer and back again, as he deals with bull headed mob bosses, thugs, grifters, and bookies.  Plenty Coen Brothers touches in the surreal moments of quiet, and the very odd people interactions.  Some sudden and bloody violence along the way.  And man, Albert Finney with a tommy gun.  Glorious. 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Tormented:  A boring ghost story.  Cheesy effects.  And that darned lighthouse.  It’s all fodder for the boys in this pretty standard, but good episode.  Another one of those movies that just looks like it was made for MST3K. 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Lost Continent:  Rock climbing.  Rock Climbing.  Caesar Romero leads a cast of cliché 50s characters on an expedition to a jungle plateau.  Along the way, they sure do a lot of rock climbing.  A LOT.  I hate to admit, I actually kind of like this film, in spite of its entirely too long of a runtime.  And too much time spent climbing the side of the plateau.  

Rock Climbing.

Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin:  I’m just not that into episodes that focus on the Time Lords, or the Doctor’s homeworld.  This kind of ho-hum political assassination thriller is sadly, less than thrilling.  And, it’s not really spoiling anything to mention that the master is involved, and that’s not really a good thing in my book.  It’s kind of fun to see the doctor run around without a companion for a while, but this really isn’t an episode I especially enjoy. 

Doctor Who:  The Invisible Enemy:  “I found the answer…Knife them in the neck!”  Man, I love Leela.  This episode is totally bugnuts.  This is the grand, wild, totally over the top kind of thing that made me absolutely love Doctor Who as a lad, and keeps me coming back as an adult.  Space virus, Innerspace hunting clones, and plenty of the old ultraviolence from my favorite future barbarian.  Love it.

Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock:  The Doctor and Leela end up on a fog shrouded island with a fear shrouded lighthouse.  What is lurking in the shadows?  A good, old fashioned monster movie type story, with the usual Who twists.  It also features a really good cast of guest actors.  And some fun savagery from Leela.

Scream of the Banshee:  I don’t know.  Sometimes little movies like this turn out to be really intriguing.  Sometimes, you find a gem.  This isn’t one of those times.  My heart sank when SyFy popped up.  A crappy cast runs through pretty standard haunting paces.  A few ideas could have worked in skilled hands.  Those hands didn’t craft this film.  Flashing lights, bad editing, goofy make-up.  Blah. 

Where's my agent?!

Tesla:  Master of Lightning:  A solid, if brief overview of a fascinating man with brief stops at important moments in time.  Obviously an hour and a half isn’t nearly enough time to get into much detail on either the man or his work.  But it’s not a bad launching place.  Pretty good voice work, too.  Worth checking out.

The Last Starfighter:  In the 80s, you could be anything if you just loved something enough, and tried (or rocked) hard enough.  The Last Starfighter was one of the ultimate escape films.  A young man, living a life of quiet desperation in a dried up old trailer park, who dreams of bigger things, is only really good at one thing, video games.  And just when it looks like he won’t escape the horror and indignity of City College (!), his video game mastery takes him to the battlefront of an interstellar war.  The special effects are pretty wonky, but you’ve got to remember that these were cutting edge computer effects when the film came out.  The movie is fun, but you have to watch it with a child’s eyes, not the common cynicism of today’s internet chat-room nitpicking.  A must for 80s movie fans. 

Night Gallery: Season 1:  A mixed bag of mysterious stories.  Some ghosts, some irony, some weird.  Like most anthology shows, some episodes are quite good, but you’ve got to sit through some blah, too.  I think my favorite stores are probably The House, which was just trippy, and The Doll. 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Devil Doll:  Oh, man.  They sure have fun with this little cheapy.  Bad acting and butchery of the English language by young starlets create plenty of fodder for jokes.  And the hammy villain is a blast.  Good stuff from Mike and the Bots.  Thankfully, Pearl isn’t in it too much.  Though, just about any Pearl is too much for this viewer.

Venture Bros: Season Two:  More twisted horror for sick minds, with a decidedly retro bent.  Comic homages to heroes and cartoons of yesteryear pepper the usual nasty humor and ultra-violence.  If you enjoyed the first season, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this one, including a guest visit from the Johnny Quest.  The pathetic sadness of failure still haunts the Ventures, while the aggressive optimism of the more hapless than villainous Monarch keeps their rivalry going.  Molotov Cocktease gets in on some babysitting action.  And who will Dr. Girlfriend finally choose? 

    I also got in a few episodes of The Omega Factor.  After seeing Leela on Doctor Who again, I felt the need to watch some more Louise Jameson.  There’s something about British science fiction from the 70s and 80s that is weird and fascinating.  They just ran with some pretty wacky ideas, and told some fairly unusual stories.  So many shows from this era have a generally unsettling vibe to them, and The Omega Factor is no exception.  That said, watching it made me feel like a little kid.  Even though I never saw this show as a lad, it kind of felt like going back to that young Matt, who watched Doctor Who for the first time, saw The Tripods, and got his first taste of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. 

    On the book front, I have finished the last of the Conan volumes, but I’m behind in writing my reviews.  I should get on that this week.  After a strong start, I think the series kind of meanders, and becomes spotty with the artwork.  Still, I’m curious to see where they’ll take things. 

    Thanks to a co-worker, I listened to a bunch of Dr. Hook this week, and picked up the new Battles CD.  Good stuff all around. 


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