Monday, October 10, 2011

Matt’s Weeks in Dork! (9/25/11-10/8/11)

    I’ve had a fairly crazy couple of weeks…Nay, couple of months…Nay, year.  But, it’s also been a busy couple of weeks, with a poorly timed sick day.  Thus, I have two weeks in Dork (and a ton of other stuff to try to catch up on…Sorry cineAWESOME!).  But, here are the movies, none the less. 

Doctor Who: Castrovalva:  Peter Davison’s first story is hardly anything to write home about, but it’s watchable.  Sadly, like a lot of episodes around this time, it features The Master, a character I find myself liking less and less the more I rewatch the show.  He twirls his mustache and hatches dastardly plans, and might as well say things like ‘curses, foiled again.’  It also has Adric and Tegan, two of my least favorite companions.  Yet, with all those negatives, it’s still an OK story.  And I find myself enjoying Davison already.  I remember as a lad not caring for either him or Colin Baker, so I’m curious to see how I’ll feel this time around.

The Broken:  While well acted and dripping with mood, I found The Broken to ultimately be something of a let down.  I like the ideas.  It just seems like they never went anywhere.  It’s not bad.  Probably worth a watch for people who like more thoughtful horror (there’s a little gore, but not too much).  I just wish there was more substance to it, because the substance that was there was intriguing.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gunslinger:  Funny, but a painful movie to sit through.  The boys give it their usual what for, and it’s got plenty of chuckles.  Not amazing, but good for a fan of the show.

The Killer Elite:  This is a pretty good action/espionage film.  Sort of Bourne meets Syriana?  All the leads are good, and it has a really good cast of ‘that guy’ actors to lend support.  The very first time I’ve ever liked Dominic Purcell, with his rockin’ 70s cop facial hair.  Not bad action, though I can almost always deal with less shaky-cam and/or close-ups during fights.  It’s worth checking out, and it’s one of the better movies Clive Owen has been in for a while.  It’s also the most badass he’s been in a LONG time.  Let’s hope we see more of this side of him.

Forgotten Silver:  A fun, cute, fake documentary about a forgotten pioneer of film.  The filmmakers did a fine job of mixing fantasy and reality to create the life of this New Zealand hero that had somehow been lost to history.  Thrill as they discover the long lost sets for his Biblical epic.  Wonder at the treasure trove of film cans.  And enjoy various filmmaker celebrities talk about their knowledge of this mysterious man.

The Phantom Carriage:  Kind of like A Christmas Carol, if Scrooge were Hitler.  I don’t care if the lead character has learned his lesson.  He may be one of the most reprehensible people ever put to film, and I don’t want him to get away with the horrors he brought upon people.  The movie itself is fun, with some creepy early special effects.  Though at times, scenes drag on for FAR too long (like when the carriage goes out on the water to fetch the drowned man…Oh, man that scene wouldn’t end!).  Worth a watch for silent film fans, for sure.

Bend of the River:  Another Western by Anthony Mann, starring Jimmy Stewart, this is more what you expect from Stewart.  Sure, he’s got a shady past, but he’s basically a good guy who wants to make a new life for himself with some settlers.  Issues of forgiveness and second chances are central to the story, which is mostly standard Western stuff.  It’s good, but nothing special.

Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday:  What a crazy episode.  Just weird.  So weird.  The basic set-up isn’t really anything too original.  A ship is bound for Earth is home to examples of several old human civilizations, and there is a sinister potential for an invasion.  From there, it goes nuts.  You just have to see it.

Cirque Du Freak:  The Vampire’s Assistant:  A surprisingly charming kid adventure movie, this one finds a young man mixed up with some good natured freaks and something of a heroic old vampire.  Plenty of good comedy bits, some surprising turns, and a clever script.  Worth checking out.  It’s too bad so few did, as this would probably have made for a good franchise.

Room in Rome:  First thing’s first.  If you have a problem with nudity or lesbians, this isn’t the film for you.  Getting past that, this is a surprisingly fun romantic film about a night of passion.  Can real connections be made with a stranger?  Can casual sex lead to something less casual?  I’ve really liked Elena Anaya since seeing her in Sex & Lucia (by the same director), and she has a lot more to do here.  And Natasha Yarovenko is also quite excellent.  The only other cast member (not counting voices or appearances on cell phones) is Enrico Lo Verso, who is charmingly goofy as a hotel employee.  A very intimate film that I found myself enjoying far more than I expected to.  And it gave me oddly nostalgic feelings for reasons I can’t explain.

Fringe: Season One:  I loved the X-Files, and my favorite episodes were always the ‘science’ stories.  Fringe is kind of like a whole series of that sort of thing, but with a more consistent feel vision.  The first season, while episodic, feels like it’s setting up for something, building toward something, and by the end, you see that it is.  I wish the season was a bit tighter.  Perhaps 16 episodes instead of 20.  But it’s a solid show and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take it.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame:  Tsui Hark delivers his usual odd brand of blockbuster action fantasy in this semi-mystery starring Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau.  The usual elements are there.  Tons of characters, lots of convoluted subplots that wrap back in on each other, tragedy, comedy, wacky wire-work, and plenty of daring do.  While this won’t go on my list of favorites, it’s a solid, fun martial arts fantasy.  In spite of being the star, I do wish Andy Lau had more to do.

Catwoman:  “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”  -H.P. Lovecraft.  Imagine this film as the pages of the Necronomicon.  Just don’t open it and all will be well.

Do Not Disturb:  I’d never heard of this film.  And, now I know why.  I’m a huge Rod Taylor fan, but he can’t do much to save this unfunny mess.  Doris Day is just annoying, and the back and forth, back and forth, back and forth comedy of errors storyline gets old really fast.  Don’t bother.  Both stars have been better in better films.

Doctor Who: Kinda:  Man, the stories got really, really weird during the 80s.  Many Peter Davison era stories almost feel like they’re based on novels, and key concepts don’t make the translation.  Still, they can be quite interesting.  I still can’t stand Tegan, though.  But the guest actors are excellent.

The Horror Show:  House III?  Whatever.  Silly and strange, this slice of 80s pie is a lot of fun.  Go to horror champion Lance Henriksen goes toe to toe with ugly mugged Brion James, who has a lot of fun hamming it up as a butchering serial killer from beyond the grave!

    I also kept reading some of DC’s New 52, and frankly have continued to be unimpressed.  Yes, Catwoman is as ridiculous as everyone says.  I like boobs and cheesecake as much as the next nerdy guy, but come on.  And I finished up Christopher Hitchens’ book Why Orwell Matters, which was an interesting read, placing Orwell in some historic context, giving some insight into his thought, and making a strong case for why he should still be read.  I myself read 1984 in the months following Gulf War Part I, and found the book to be frighteningly timely, and I don’t think anything has changed since then.

    In other book related news (sort of), I’m borrowing a Nook from my fellow Dork, so I can finally read Christa Faust’s Hoodtown, a novel set in an alternate world where some folks wear masks, and some folks don’t, but murder still means trouble.  It’s good.  Sadly, I’m moving slowly through it, because it’s my commute book for bus trips to work.  But, I’m really enjoying it, and suggest, if you’ve got a Nook, check it out.  It’s only like $3. I think.

    As far as music goes, I haven’t been experimenting lately.  Mostly just chilling out to some electronica, especially the soundtracks to Drive and Hanna and some Ladytron.  I feel like I’ve got some kind of kick about to happen, but I don’t know what it is.  Maybe funk?  That said, I did discover this cool bit of audio goodness on YouTube.  Folks have been creating audio format works of Lovecraft, and I’m all for it.


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