Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (2/19/12-2/25/12)

Other Men’s Women:  A kind of douchy guy starts hanging with his swell chum and said chum’s understanding wife.  All’s well for quite some time, until Douchy McDouche and the cute young wife get a taste of something extra.  Before they can go too far, McDouche takes his leave, but not soon enough.  Problems and troubles.  Blindness, drunkenness, and lots of coffee.  Pretty good movie, though the end, like a lot from the pre-Code days, is kind of bent.  Still not sure what James Cagney is doing in the movie, other than dancing.

The Purchase Price:  Barbara Stanwyck is a torch singing floozy, who flees the life and ends up in an arranged marriage in North Dakota.  OK, sure.  The weird premise ends up working for the most part, and the leads are all quite charming.  It’s a fun old timey romantic comedy with lots of colorful characters and adventures.

The Wall Street Mystery:  This short film is feels like a TV show episode from 30 years later, but it’s enjoyable in a light sort of way.  Though, yikes.  The horribly racist portrayal of the elevator attendant.  Wow.  The investigating doctor is an odd bird, that’s for sure.

Platinum Blonde:  This movie is the berries.  A wise cracking reporter gets a hankerin’ for a rich dame, breaking the heart of his best friend (also a dame!).  Whatever it was that Jean Harlow did to men in her day, she does not do to me.  She’s got comic timing and acting talent, but her sex symbol status is beyond me.  Loretta Young, however, has a certain doe-eyed pluck I find quite charming.  The movie takes on the idle rich as a working man is tempted by the luster of wealth.  Is he a bird in a gilded cage?

A Perfect Murder:  I can’t help it.  I want Michael Douglass to succeed at every turn.  First off, his wife is awful.  Secondly, her boyfriend is a douche.  And thirdly, Douglass is just so danged charming.  The film is extremely 90s, with its no nudity clause sex scenes and almost made for TV, over sanitized feel.  But frankly, Douglass’ reference to a woman as a “Castilian femme fatale” alone was worth the price of admission.  It does serve to remind me just how much I don’t care for Gwyneth Paltrow.  How did she have a career again?

Frisco Jenny:  A young woman from the wrong part of town takes on the world with her wits and cunning.  She’s anything but an angel, but she has one light, her son.  Adopted by a family with money, makes good; better than he’d ever have made with his mother.  Jenny tries to be the young man’s guardian angel, but her shady life and sordid history will haunt them.  The movie follows an interesting path, leading to an interestingly filmed and edited courtroom scene.  Ruth Chatterton gives a heck of a performance as the title character.

The Studio Murder Mystery:  Donald Meek is back as the weirdass doctor/investigator, on the prowl for a good mystery.  His cop buddy that keeps calling him in is great, too.  Just a big dumb lug.  Look, Meek is a strait-up creeper.  I have no idea why they made more than one of these shorts.  And there’s a dude that looks like Nic Cage (once again…vampire?).

Midnight Marry:  “I’ll give you a ring sometime…Maybe.”  A hard-luck kid gets chewed up and spit out by the system, turning into a wild child.  Loretta Young plays the corruptible young woman in this bleak movie about crime, poverty, and the depths of life on the street.  The Depression hit’s the streets like a gut punch.

Terror of the Bloodhunters:  Lacking in the dubious charm of a Corman movie of the same era, this movie is just a bit too dull, and not quite sensationalist as it should be.  The cast is easily forgotten, nor are there any particularly fun or memorable moments.  It is.  That’s about it.

Liane: The Jungle Goddess:  Bad dubbing and awkward, somewhat exploitative stock footage go along with a moderately attractive woman who doesn’t seem to mind taking her top off.  Not at all a good movie, it’s kinda amusing in its way.  Pretty typical of the ‘blonde jungle girl’ subgenre of lowbrow adventure films.

Metropolis:  OK, I know I’ve reviewed this before.  Probably several times.  Heck, I’ve seen this movie countless times (in myriad versions).  But, seeing the complete version, on the big screen at the AFI Silver, with a live band, was a real thrill.  And seeing it with a friend who had never seen it, and another who had never seen any silent film before was a special treat.  What a way to first experience the movie.  And it is a heck of a film.  You can see the roots of so many movies over the decades in its visuals and concepts.  And of course, like many true classics, its messages and themes are as timely today as when it was filmed.  One thing I really like about the movie is that the villains aren’t truly evil.  Even mad scientist Rotwang can be sympathized with.  He is a wronged man, lost in grief, and driven to set things right, not some soulless monster.  And it might be corny, but the overall theme that the head and the hand must be mediated by the heart is something I genuinely believe.  I appreciate the visceral and the cerebral, the high and the low, the mind and the body, the civil and the brutish, order and chaos.  Balance.

Tarzan, The Ape Man:  In an EXTREMELY loose adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic adventure novel, Tarzan appears as a dumb, if handsome, doof.  A plucky young woman enters his life, screams and complains a lot, and romance is born.  There are some pretty cool bits, but I can’t help wishing the book had served as more than a source of a title.  And am I nuts, or are those Indian elephants with prosthetic ears?  I’m not a biologist or anything, but they don’t look right.

Tarzan Escapes:  Much of the goofiness of the first film remains.  But dang if Maureen O’Sullivan doesn’t look seriously hot.  For some reason, Tarzan is still an idiot.  One would think that simply being around Jane and listening to her talk would have taught him a thing or two, but alas, he still does little more than parrot her words.  This movie also makes use of stock footage from previous films.  Watch out for ju-ju, man.  On-gawa.

Coffy:  The movie that made me fall in love with Pam Grier and Blaxploitation, Coffy is crazy.  It’s violent, deviant, filled with memorable characters and performances (not always good, but memorable none the less), and lots of flesh.  If you want a taste of Ms. Grier, the subgenre, or if you’re already a fan but haven’t seen this, check it out.  It’s a must.

Heroes for Sale:  “It may be the end of us, but it’s not the end of America.”  The horrors of war and the winds of fate take their toll on two men.  A fortunate son who turned yellow in the trenches ends up with awards and accolades, while a workaday schlub gets injured and hooked on morphine.  But schlub or no, he’s got grit and makes good.  But, as with a lot of movies from the time, things don’t go well for too long.  The system crushes all.  And after our hero has been chewed up and spit out, he gets stepped on and ground into the pavement.  It’s no shock that folks in the Depression would identify with movies like this.

    And Ben and I checked out a couple TV shows; John Adams, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone.  John Adams seems pretty interesting.  I need to finish it off one of these days.  It’s not an era I’m especially familiar with, but should be.    And of course, I love me some classic anthology sci-fi.

    I also got through the second disk of Smiley’s People, which I’m enjoying much more than Tinker Taylor Sailor Spy.  It’s a good series, with a slow building tension that makes me hungry for the next episode.

       Book wise, I finished the Halo novel I’ve been picking at for a while.  It was a good deal of fun to read, and I’m interested in what the next one will bring.

    With all that, I still managed to host a second game night, which went quite well, I thought.  I’ll post about that later.


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