Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (3/18/12- 3/24/12)

    A pretty good week.  Got in a surprising number of movies again, considering how danged busy I was, and the fact that I had two days where I was gone from dawn to bed time and beyond (blast you inventory!!!).  But the second such day was a great trip into the city.

Separate Ways:  Weirdass lion-lady Karen Black can’t handle her loveless marriage.  I can’t say that I blame her, as her husband is a boring dick who shuts her out at every opportunity.  But, the longer the camera stares at her, the more I was reminded of Mask, and the more I felt for the husband (I know it’s mean, but she’s brutally unappealing in this film).  And then a lycanthrope era David Naughton shows up!  And he plays the sax.  No kidding.  However, this is just another one of those 70s style movies about relationships where everyone is awful and you have to wonder why anyone ever got together in the first place.  Blink and you’ll miss Sybil Danning at the car shop.

Hot Target:  New Zealand is the location for this smutty bit of fluff.  80sed-up tart Simone Griffeth looks like she just stepped out of a magazine ad for watches or jewelry, all bottle blonde and too red a lipstick and nail polish.  Getting past the misquoting of Casablanca, and the absolute awful creepiness of the illicit affair, the nudity, of which there’s quite a bit, is awkward as all get out.  This is the sort of thing Cinemax would go on to make time and again with Shannon Tweed.

Do or Die:  Andy Sidaris is back with another round of guns, explosions, goofy humor, and big…I do mean big boobs.  The plot is secondary.  Something about Pat Morita sending hitmen after our leads.  But whatever.  You’re not watching Sidaris for the story, the acting, or any of that.  A lot of familiar faces and familiar…well, there’s a lot in this movie you’ll have already seen if you’ve been following the franchise.  More of the same, but that’s fine.

21 Jump Street:  “F*%# you, Miles Davis!”  I don’t know if anyone is more surprised than me that I loved this movie.  I’m almost appalled, frankly.  But this movie is really, really funny.  I was curled up in a ball, tears streaming down my face, laughing so hard I thought I was going to choke.  That’s not really common for me.  The cast does a great job and the script is shockingly clever, even when it’s being stupid.  And the biggest shock for me is how much I liked meathead Channing Tatum, a guy I’d have been perfectly happy to never see work again in my life, but who won me over at least for the length of this film.

Casa de mi Padre:  Kind of like a Mexican version of Black Dynamite, this homage/parody of old school Mexi-schlock movies is very funny, and very goofy.  There’s plenty of room fro the usual antics of star Will Ferrell, but it’s the villainous Gael Garcia Bernal who is the real stand-out.  Every moment he was on screen I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.  His cigarette acting alone should get him some kind of nod in the next award season.

Nude Nuns with Big Guns:  Look, if you read the title of this movie and think, “Hmm…this seems like a movie for me,” then you should know what to expect.  You pretty much get it.  Grim violence, awful deeds, lots of nude nuns (some do indeed have large guns).  The women aren’t especially attractive, and the men are especially repellant, but the overall movie was enjoyably trashy.  Very 70s in vibe, which is what the whole neo-grindhouse thing is all about.

Cat in the Cage:  Mr. Snookems or whatever he’s called, has to be the least threatening cat ever captured on film (no matter how dramatic the score gets).  Other than Sybil Danning, this movie has pretty much no redeeming features.  It’s boring, it’s nonsensical, and everyone’s reactions to everything is, in that typical Euro-cinema way, completely arbitrary.  A cat?  Screaming hysterics!  A murder?  Hmm.  Walking down a hall?  Total raging freak-out!  Who are these people?  Why is European film so full of people with emotions set on a randomizer?  I don’t know, and this film doesn’t shed any light on it.

Hard Hunted:  Some of the charm of the earlier films is missing by this point, but it’s still fun in that special Sidaris way.  Lots of near pointless plot twists and turns.  Occasional boobs.  Occasional gun fights.  Occasional acting.  It’s what you expect.

Fit to Kill:  “Are the pictures in English?”  Andy Sidaris and his regulars are back, but this time they’ve brought Julie Strain in on the game.  As fun and stupid as these movies are, they’re starting to feel like a public service message about the dangers of breast enhancements.  Please ladies, just don’t do it.

Firefly:  Firefly did in 14 episodes what most shows can’t do in three or four seasons.  Creating a memorable cast of characters, thrilling adventures, and a cult-like devotion in fans the likes of which haven’t been seen since the original Star Trek.  Playing with tropes of science fiction and the Western, it fills the screen with larger than life characters that both adopt and defy cliché.  The Han Solo-like ‘rogue with a heart of gold’ Mal, the honorable whore Inara, the plucky farm girl with mechanical thumb Kaylee, and others.  Sadly, one that also shows up is a Joss Whedon special, the idiot-savant waif/super-warrior River, a modern character cliché I can’t stand (unless played by Milla).  Taking on science fiction and western stories gave us hover-train robberies, ultra-tech heists, Magnificent Seven stand-offs, and other fun stuff.  While not perfect, it really is something special, and its frustrating brevity also makes each episode that much more special, never letting the show outstay its welcome.  For me personally, the show captures that certain magical something about the rugged individualist, surviving on the fringes on his/her own accord.  I’ve said it elsewhere, but Mal and Serenity always puts me in mind of Jake Cutter and Cutter’s Goose, or Charlie Allnut and the African Queen, or perhaps more obviously for many, Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon.  Like the best science fiction, this tells good stories about interesting people, which should appeal to any with an open mind.

Serenity:  After FOX’s horrible mishandling of the Firefly TV show, showing it out of order, changing its night, not giving anyone a chance to see it, much less for the show to develop a following, I’m quite sure nobody expected a movie to come about.  But the show, like its protagonists, defied the odds.  With success of sales on DVD and a vocal, rabid fanbase, a modest budget was cobbled together and a movie was made.  Sadly, part of the translation to the big screen meant a watering down of the show’s style, dropping a good deal of the Western vibe that gave the show some of its unique charm.  It also took a darker turn, which kind of made sense when you look at where the short lived show seemed to have been heading.  And, at least the film actually answers some of the questions introduced in the show, like what’s up with River? and who are those Reaver folks? and why are they so danged freaky?  The action is pretty good and the story is all right.  The Operative makes for a pretty cool villain, and for this fan of the show, the treatment the crew gets was somewhat devastating (yes, there are deaths of main characters).  But, when all is said and done, I still wasn’t fully satisfied.  I’d have rather had another dozen episodes, or heck, maybe a couple of seasons.  Still, at least it serves as an adequate capper to the series, which is better than many get (Twin Peaks, Enterprise, Farscape…well, Peacekeeper Wars was OK, I guess, etc.).

Parisian Love:  A pretty forgettable bit of fluff about petty thieves and wealthy folk, and what happens when they get mixed up with each other, and of course, fall in love.  It’s fairly well made, but paints with some broad strokes.  The best thing about it is the glimpse into the look and style of the time.  Houses and locations are often quite impressive, and while perhaps somewhat fantastic or stylized, still point toward a certain truth.  I guess Clara Bow is charming in her way, but her way doesn’t especially charm me.

Down to the Sea in Ships:  While it’s got some pretty cool footage of boats and locations, this tale of whaling vessels and Quaker love isn’t especially good.  And man, is it title-card heavy.  It’s primary notability comes from being the debut of Clara Bow, as a precocious young woman who hops a ship (though her story is secondary at best).  I did like the Graduate-like wedding bit, though.  Overall it was OK, but nothing special.  Whaling is an ugly business, though.

    I also got in a couple episodes of The Tomorrow People, which I’m still enjoying.  Very weird show, but plenty of that crazy 70s British crazy.

    Also got some reading in.  I blew through a some Hellboy (read my review here).  And I finished off a pretty good history book, 428 AD (read my review here).

    And on Saturday, a friend and I went into DC to attend the Reason Rally.  More on that later.


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