Sunday, December 25, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (12/18/11-12/24/11)

    My day job consumed much of my waking life this past week, yet I still got in some good quality dorkiness.  And I got a serious start on my year end movie list, which I’m pretty excited to put together.  First up, the handful of movies I got in.

The Sarah Jane Adventures: Season 4:  More fun adventures from the more kid-friendly spin-off of Doctor Who.  Seeing this season now, after Elisabeth Sladen’s death, was particularly poignant.   Death of the Doctor parts 1 & 2 were especially tough, with their stories of loss and paths not taken.  Throughout the season there were little references to the way things change, and that eventually we lose those we love.  I don’t know the details of Sladen’s illness, but I would not be at all surprised to find out that the writers were aware, and were in a sense, preparing viewers.

Some Like it Hot:  Watching especially famous classics for the first time can be difficult.  Often they’re beloved by many who either grew up with them, or have some special memories attached to them.  I was lucky to see Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and some others before I had heard too much about how amazing they were.  Sadly, for me, Some Like it Hot simply doesn’t live up to the hype.  Oh, sure, the actors are all having fun.  But, for me, it simply wasn’t funny.  There are funny moments.  Funny lines of dialog.  Clearly, the writing is clever, and I can respect that.  But, overall, I found the film kind of tedious.  And I’ll just never understand the whole Marilyn thing, either.  And that doesn’t help.  Far from finding her ‘captivating’ or ‘charming’ or whatever, I find her grating in the extreme.  And in that sense, this is her at her worst.  I can’t say it’s a bad film, only that it was not for me.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Bride of the Monster:  Good sweet crap, this Ed Wood monstrosity is rough.  Still, plenty of good material for the boys to have fun with.  A worthy episode.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:  The American version of the film is much like watching the European version with dubbing instead of subtitles.  There are few differences, really.  The cast is nice, but they don’t  leave an indelible mark on their characters.  Nobody does anything different enough from their original counterparts to set themselves apart.  It’s good enough, and if this is the only version you see, it’s fine.  If you’ve already seen the original film version, though, like Let the Right One In/Let Me In, there’s really no need to see this new take.  It’s simply not unique enough to be all that interesting.  If you haven’t seen either version, be warned that there is some pretty strong, brutal sexual content.

The Adventures of Tintin:  The pages of the classic comic come to life (thankfully, without the racism) in this CGI adventure from Spielberg and Doctor Who writer/show runner Steven Moffat.  The action is exciting, the humor broad without being crass, the characters likable, and the overall feeling one of great fun.  A movie for the whole family, that doesn’t talk down to kids and doesn’t bore adults.  Enjoy.

The Tomb of Love:  The second half of Fritz Lang’s serial-like “Indian Epic” is more of the same.  The story is a bit more fast paced and direct this time, moving from the surprise rescue to the climax without a lot of wandering.  The snake dance is almost worth the price of admission (I’m sure the censers were in a huff over that).  But overall, the film(s) is only OK and doesn’t feature anything especially dramatic or interesting to make it seem worthy of the director.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:  Having watched the mini-series adaptation of the novel not too long ago, my first reaction was ‘this would probably be better as a movie’ in part because the mini-series simply took too long to go anywhere or do anything.  I was right.  This film plays MUCH better.  That said, it’s still an extremely quiet, slow burn of a film.  There is virtually no action.  Occasional violence is quite brutal but not lingered on.  The actors are all in top form, but much of their work is done in meaningful glances.  The movie also felt old.  It’s set solidly in the middle of the Cold War, and several times throughout, I was reminded of films from that era, not just because of content, but filming style.  And it was nice seeing Mark Strong playing one of his rare non-villainous roles.

    I read volumes 3 (Nomads) and 4 (Ravages) of the Pelle/Runberg comic series Orbital this week.  The art is gorgeous and the space opera universe they’ve created is fun Golden Age sci-fi stuff.  However, on reading these volumes, I find some frustration in the presentation.  Volumes 1 and 2 tell a single story but are broken into two for no good reason.  Same with volumes 3 and 4.  These should really be condensed into two volumes instead of four, and the only reason I can see that they’re not is an attempt at a money grab.  But, these aren’t going to be blockbuster titles, and might more likely sell to folks on the fence if they were a better price.  13.95 each for 4 volumes, or 15.95 each for what should have been two.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the books.  I’m hopeful that volume isn’t the end.  While it wraps up the second story arc, it leaves the reader hanging in relation to the main characters.  So, here’s hoping a volume 5 will be coming along sooner than later.


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