Thursday, April 5, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (3/25/12-3/31/12)

    This Dork was on a much needed vacation and making the best of it.  Got a bunch watched, a good deal read, some traveling done, plenty of cooking, and had a bunch of fun.  Relaxed, too.  The best vacation I've had in a long time.

Breaking Bad:  With plenty of crazy twists, this show does a good job of keeping things fast paced and brutal, but still funny and heartfelt.  Good scripts and a fine cast give it all a kick, and things don’t always go where you might expect from a TV show, reminding me once again how different TV has become.

Red Headed Woman:  Jean Harlow is a driven monster looking to move her way up the social and economic ladder, and she’s willing to do anything to get where she wants.  No matter who she steps on, sleeps with, and destroys.  All the usual awful behavior of pre-Code Hollywood is on display, especially sex and drinking.  I still don’t understand what the appeal of Jean Harlow was, but the movie is pretty good.

Waterloo Bridge:  A hard-luck showgirl and a swell but dopy doughboy meet up during an air raid, and awkward romance is born.  London during Great War is a rough place for love.  Poor Roy just doesn’t know how to deal with a woman, especially one who has been making a go of it in the best way she can (read: selling ‘affection’).

Baby Face:  Oh boy does our leading lady get around.  A young woman, raised by her awful father who sold her services to bar patrons since she was a kid, gets a little help from an old man who’s a fan of Nietzsche.  From him, she learns that she’s got power and can make men do what she wants.  And boy does she, sleeping her way up the social and economic ladder, driving men to all sorts of ugly deeds (the murder/suicide is pretty wild).  The movie sure does take a hard look at cruel, ugly, and stupid people.  Check out some pre-Code villainy.

The Virgin Spring:  Quiet, beautiful, and downright brutal, this Ingmar Bergman exploration of vengeance is something to see.  Certainly more graphic that an American movie of the same time, it’s still disquieting today.  The almost fairytale medieval setting is beguiling.  A whole lot of ugly lurks.

The Raid: Redemption:  Wow.  Don’t go to Indonesia.  A whole lot of people get brutally killed in some crazy gun blasting, face kicking, back breaking action.  This movie starts out a bit wonky, but once the poop hit’s the fan, it’s a balls-out rush through a kung-fu drug-house slum block.  There are some really crazy, intense fights in this movie, and fans of martial arts action should find plenty to like.  Plot?  Well, there really ain’t all that much.  Still, it makes up for it in bone-crunching violence.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:  It’s probably not the best thing to admit, but this movie was extremely influential to young me.  As a budding (and sadly, failed) rocker, I think I half believed the 80s idea that rocking hard enough might actually change the world.  And I still say ‘dude’ and ‘excellent’ more than a normal fella ought.  And yes, history is awesome!  If Billy the Kid were half this cool, I’d hang out with Socrates Johnson and Bob Genghis Khan any day.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey:  Not nearly as excellent as the first film, this movie is still a lot of fun, and plenty weird.  Evil robot versions of our bodacious heroes do most egregious evils.  Death himself gets in on the action, even if he’s not that good at Battlship.  And all kinds of crazy builds to a battle of the bands, and a moment that will change Earth’s future.  Worth checking out for sure.  Just not quite as awesome as the original.

The Hunger Games:  What do you get when you mix a bunch of painfully unappealing people with a bunch of poorly executed concepts that haven’t been fresh in science fiction for 60 years?  Well, so long as it’s set in a world of drag queens and miners, you get The Hunger Games, the latest in the ‘this crap wouldn’t cut it on the adult market, so let’s call it a teen novel’ subgenre of bad fiction that has been translated to the big screen.  If Twilight was too Mormon for you, and Bella too stupid, now you can have Katness(?) who is good at whatever for some reason and everything just sort of works out for her…for some reason.  With all the illusory depth of Escher but with none of the intellectual challenge, it feels like Leonard Malton explaining the plot to Blade Runner.  Character actors who should be better back up three young people who look like they were found in the clay while excavating Uglyass Island.  They didn’t top Twilight for hard to look at actors, but they gave it the old college try.  And maybe if any of them had a bit of charm or charisma, or characters we could care about…No, who am I kidding?  If that were the case, this would be a different film.  Skip it, and watch The Running Man and Logan’s Run.  It’s clearly what Suzanne Collins did.  And if I may, I’d like to ask that someone please check on the cameraman, as I think he may suffer from seizures, and should probably see a doctor.

Enemy Gold:  With the shift from Hawaii to Texas, we also have a change in cast, with only a few returning Sidaris regulars.  After a few ties to WWII in previous films, this time it’s the Civil War that gets a spotty handling.  Being firmly in the 90s, all the women sport silly looking fake boobs and being a Sidars film, all the men are genuine boobs.  And Julie Strain is back to throttle the concept of acting.  I’m always impressed when someone is a bad enough actor that even their standing or walking sucks.

Doctor Who: Warriors of the Deep:  The return of those bloody pre-Human reptile folk, the Silurians and the Sea Devils, this tale of the fifth Doctor still annoyingly features Tegan, who has to be right up at the top of my list of worst companions.  The costumes for the original Silurian design are much better, though still pretty stiff.  Oddly, the Sea Devils don’t look as good as their first appearance.  And boy did they ugly up Ingrid Pitt, who admittedly may have been past her prime, but was still a striking woman.  Not here.  This story goes brutal in its final episode.  Dang.

The Sister In-Law:  A hot and hot-to-trot soon to be ex-wife can’t get enough of dirty hippie John Savage.  He doesn’t have too much love for his jerk-wad brother, and doesn’t seem to have much problem with the idea of sleeping with the sister in-law (or the ‘other woman’).  The 70s were weird, man.  Goofy looking bearded guys had all the luck, it seems.  But the ladies in this sure are pretty.  Even when they’re having an awkward pool fight.  The moral of this film seems to be “don’t do business with drug dealers who look like Neal Diamond impersonators.”

Noon Sunday:  What?  The first feature film made in Guam?  Wow.  It sure is all kinds of made in Guam.  I guess.  Past their prime TV actors show up, read some lines, and then some stuff happens.  Blah.  Mark Lenard just looks sad, like he knows his career ain’t going anywhere, and this is what he can get.  The scenery looks like a depressing mix of southern California and the Philippines.  Ew.

Primeval Season 4 & 5:  Well look, if you’ve been watching Primeval up to this point, you know there are some great ideas, some likable characters, and an overall concept that could be really, really awesome.  But you also know it fails almost as often as it succeeds.  Often really big story ideas are introduced and then hardly explored, being pushed to the side in favor of ‘monster of the week’ episodes.  Then all of a sudden the big ideas all come to head, but in unsatisfactory ways.  I wish they could boil the whole thing down and re-do it as a single season/mini-series.

Logan’s Run:  I’ve watched Logan’s Run many, many times over the years since I discovered its particular brand of 70s crazy.  It’s a movie I genuinely love, in spite of some flaws.  I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but seriously, I really love this movie.  And finally, I got to see it on the big screen, and that certain magic that happens only when you see movies in a theater happened again.  It felt like seeing it for the first time again, sort of.  Farrah Fawcett’s ‘performance’ is still jaw-droppingly awful and totally feels like it was tacked on as a favor.  It does nothing to help the film and is embarrassing for all involved.  But Peter Ustinov’s performance felt brand new and wonderful.  And his interaction with Agutter and York was brilliant.  The vision of the hedonistic future, the underbelly of the city, the overgrown outside, and the old man are all fantastic.  The clothing is a trippy mix of Rome and Woodstock.  The music hops back and forth between electronic noise and triumphant orchestration.  And man, someone should have an Oscar just for getting Jenny Agutter to show up in that outfit.  Do they give Oscars for Awesomeness?  This and Zardoz will always be linked in my mind; two films of stunning vision and weirdness, where I can’t figure out how they were ever made, but am oh so glad they were.  Oh, and this was 70s PG, which probably means a modern R.  There are some pretty dark themes, some blood, and a bunch of nudity.

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School:  Roger Corman and crew do a fun, goofy high school comedy.  The humor is extremely broad and the acting often wonky, but the overall movie is enjoyable.  Paul Bartell as the groovy teacher is all kinds of off-beat nutty.

BMX Bandits:  Australian 80s rad, man.  A bunch of kids run afoul of some two-bit hoods.  It’s total fluff, but enjoyably goofy fluff.  So 80s.  And Nichole Kidman’s hair.  Yikes.  This is totally an accurate representation of life on the back of a BMX, too.  Totally accurate.

    I also caught a few episodes of the anime Project Blue Earth: SOS, which suffers from the usual faults of Japanese animation (repetitive character design, choppy animation, dumb dialog, and crappy dubbing), but also has some charm.  Again, like most anime, it’s recycling ideas, this time they seem to be tapping into Gerry Anderson’s world.  A dash of Captain Scarlet, a large chunk of Thunderbirds and UFO.  We’ll see if the usual happens, if the show goes off track and wanders into boring oblivion, or if as I’ve seen happen on precious few occasions, it has satisfactory follow-through.

    And I watched a few episodes of Charlie’s Angels, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The New Avengers, and Boardwalk Empire.  All a lot of fun, though season two of Charlie’s Angels is noticeably weaker than the first.  The writing just isn’t there.  The New Avengers has an odd vibe, very 70s.  Puts me in mind of The Sweeney and other UK cop shows of the time.  Not at all like the original show, though still charming.

    I got a bunch of reading done, too.  This week, B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs (my review here) and The Amazing Screw-On Head (my review here).

    On Tuesday, while Brad and I were heading in to DC to see The Raid at E-Street, we ended up with some extra time.  So, we hit up the American Art Museum to check out the video game art exhibit.  Dang.  That was lame.  It might have made for an interesting first room in a more expansive exhibit.  One that featured more art and less video game systems in plastic cases.  It took all of ten minutes to see the whole thing, and about half that to realize the trip to the third floor wasn’t worth the effort.

Almost the extent of the 'art.'

    Finally got my essay on the Reason Rally posted, too.  Check it out here.


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