Sunday, October 16, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (10/9/11-10/15/11)

In the Shadow of the Moon:  An inspirational documentary about the space program, focusing on the journeys to the Moon.  There’s plenty of beautiful footage, solid interviews, and some interesting information.  It’s nice to see them not just focus on the first Moon landing and Apollo 13, but on the Moon missions overall.  I especially responded to Astronaut Michael Collins talking about his time alone in the capsule as the other two men were the first to set foot on the Moon.  Not feeling lonely as he has been referred to, but more, at peace.  And to William Anders who came away with a profoundly altered perception of himself and the universe.  The tagline for this film is ‘Remember when the whole world looked up.’  I say, remember when we believed in ourselves and in the future.  I hope that young people seeing this movie will see where we’ve been, and be inspired to push us further.

Bored to Death Season One:  Irreverent, funny, surreal, and all kinds of laugh out loud fun, this series is a new favorite.  The cast is excellent and the show has the cinematic quality you expect from HBO.  The writing for the first season is top notch.  More people should be watching this show.

Real Steel:  I really, really wanted to like this movie much more than I actually did.  It’s got all the ingredients.  I like the cast for the most part, the setting, and the concept.  But, the awkward, cringe inducing moments come too often, and too strong.  With ex-boxer turned hard luck looser Hugh Jackman being so monstrously unlikable that I didn’t want him to come back from oblivion most of the time.  Young Dakota Goyo does fairly well, but if his whole story arc had been dropped (the deadbeat dad and the prodigy son), the film would have been better.  Evangeline Lilly is good and typically easy to look at, but her role is almost an afterthought.  The robots are the real stars, and the fights are well done.  And they resisted doing some cliché moves that I was surprised by.  With some more severe editing (the film is over two hours long), I think this could have been very good.  Instead, it’s passable, but ultimately frustrating.  I think, were I a ten year old, I’d absolutely love this film.  But, as an adult, in spite of my child-like view of movies, it just doesn’t quite make it.

Doctor Who: Time Flight:  A really, really weird story gets side-tracked by another appearance by The Master.  The more I see of that character, the less I like him.  Still, this one has some very cool stuff and is genuinely creepy at times.  I actually thought it was going to get into some theosophy early on, and I think that would have been a much cooler direction to take it, instead of the Master showing up.

The Thing from Another World:  While totally missing the ‘enemy within’ element of the story and 1982 remake, this alien menace movie is still really cool.  A great cast of interesting characters bandy about some snappy dialog, trade friendly jabs, and occasionally reminisce about the War (WWII).  And then a giant plant man ambles about trying to kill everyone.  Great sets and cinematography make the experience that much more thrilling.  The sequence where they try to burn the Thing is especially cool.  A must for fans of classic sci-fi horror.  Maybe not as good as Them! but still excellent.

Sword of War:  Holy Boring, Batman.  This made-for-TV looking snoozefest isn’t worth bothering with.  No interesting characters, a by the numbers pseudo-plot, and bad canned music.  I’m sure, somewhere along the way, this sounded like a cool idea for a movie.  And maybe with more money, or more creativity, it could have been.  It kind of feels like the live action inserts for a History Channel documentary.  And, perhaps, had it had some kind of factual narration accompanying it, I might have paid more attention.

You can see, even with a knife to his throat, he's not impressed.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Beast of Yucca Flats:  Meister of schlock, Coleman Francis, brings us this low budget turd that seems mostly concerned with driving and/or parking, with occasional walking, in the desert.  Oh, and sad-sack giant Tor Johnson ambles about with some muck on his face.  Good stuff.  Joel and the Bots take it to task.  This episode also features two shorts, which are both awesome, especially the Puerto Rico propaganda film.

The Thing:  Probably my favorite horror movie of all time, The Thing is an excellent thriller with a fantastic cast of actors playing interesting and memorable characters.  The script is tight, the music haunting, and the setting captures the essence of seclusion.  It really has everything a good horror film needs.  Everyone is in top form.  A must.

      So, on Saturday night, friend of Dorkness Robert invited us over to his place for what is becoming a tradition.  Robert's Trilogy of Terror Movie Night 2011!  Each of us brings a horror movie and we settle in for a night of varied madness.

Brad's Pick:  The Beyond:  What starts out as a creepy, moody Italian horror film turns, like all too many Italian films of the type, into total gobbledegook.  Somewhere around the halfway point, it becomes a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes featuring the same cast, but not following any sort of narrative structure.  It reminded me of a William S. Burroughs ‘cut-ups’ experiment.  So frustrating, because it starts off so promising, and could have turned into a very cool Lovecraftian horror film.  I did think Cinzia Monreale was kind of hot as the blind lady with the dog, and the shot where she’s introduced is by far the best moment of the film.  So, that’s something.

Robert's Pick:  Creatures from the Pink Lagoon:  Goofy, silly, mildly amusing, this spoof features a bunch of guys on a weekend getaway that turns deadly when gay zombies sashay their way to murder.  The acting varies wildly, but the main cast is pretty good, and clearly having fun hamming it up.

My Pick:  The Crawling Eye (aka The Trollenberg Terror): This 50s science fiction horror film is a lot of fun.  Great secluded setting, mixed with a strange cast of characters, and a slow burn horror that takes a good long time to show up.  The Brits at this point were creating harder edged horror and science fiction films than we were Stateside, and this is no slouch in the brutal/graphic violence department.  If you’ve only seen the horrible print shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000, give it another chance with a quality edition.  It’s worth it.

    I also watched a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which has potential and is occasionally really funny, but didn’t wow me so far.  I saw a few more episodes of Fringe, and checked out a bit of the original The Tomorrow People series, which I really enjoyed.  More creepy, strange fun from the UK in the 70s.

    I started the week off building a rocket model with a friend.  The Fame Master 4D Apollo 11 Saturn V is a beast.  But, it’s a well designed beast.   Though not quite glue free (there were a few bits of detail that really do need a few dollops of glue to keep them on), it fit together in a shockingly easy and often intuitive way.  With a few exceptions, most of the model could probably have been assembled without the aid of the instruction manual.  The whole thing took only a couple hours for the two of us.

    On the book front, I finished up Hoodtown by Christa Faust.  A very fun read.  I love Faust’s retro-hard boiled style.  It’s quick and brutal and to the point.  And her alternate world worked very well.  It felt real.  I’d love to see another story, if not featuring the same characters, featuring the setting.  I also read her short story, Cutman, about a butch lesbian working as a boxing cutman.  Extremely brief, but perfectly readable and worth the 99 cents on the Nook.  I also grabbed Clark Ashton Smith’s Return of the Sorcerer anthology for the Nook.  I’ve been in the mood for Lovecraft and similar writers recently (well, always, but more so recently).

    I guess that just about sums it up.  Wasn’t listening to much music this week.  Or at least, nothing hopped out as being especially interesting or important. 


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