Monday, August 13, 2012

Brad's Week In Dork! (8/5/12-8/11/12)

This was a seriously full Week in Dork.  Yes, it was still pretty damn random, but I packed in as much Dorkery as I possibly could considering I was practically living & sleeping my Retail Land day job.  The Wife & I made two trips to the cineplex this week for Total Recall & The Bourne Legacy.  Neither film ignited a fiery passion but it's always good to be under The Big Screen, and it gave me an excuse to crack open my HDDVDs of the Bourne films.  My love for them has dwindled some, but they still proved that Good Will Hunting could be a serious badass.  The Total Recall remake though...yeah, can't touch the insanity of the original Arnie ultraviolence.


After Movie Diner Episode 49 - Double Bill Shatner:  Late last Saturday night, or rather early Sunday morning, I joined the After Movie Diner for a thorough conversation detailing the genius double feature of Impulse & The Devil's Rain--two of my all time favorite William Shatner flicks.  Both movies have been staples of our Shat Attack parties and they never fail to bring down the house.  Filmed back to back in the mid seventies when Shatner was struggling to find a career after Star Trek, Impulse is one of the great B-A-D films; with horrendous direction that's almost as criminal as Shatner's epic fashion statements.  The Devil's Rain on the other hand is a forgotten gem.  Seriously, directed by the man who brought us The Abominable Dr. Phibes, shot by the man behind Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, and cut by Steven Spielberg's go-to editor.  It's a goof, but a gorgeous goofball oddity ready for a 1080p transfer.  Please check out the episode, and listen to a couple of Shat-Fanatics geek out joyously over a couple of classic 5 dollar bin flicks.


The NRA Firearms Museum:  On Friday, The Wife & I had a day off together.  A real rarity these days.  The original plan was to hit up the National Zoo but afternoon showers killed that idea and we had to improvise.  Using the Nearest App on her phone, The Wife discovered that the closest museum to our place is actually the NRA Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA.  I've lived in NOVA for 20 years now but never in a million billion years have I ever contemplated a visit to the NRA.  That being said, when she read off their website that it housed a warehouse of Hollywood guns including Dirty Harry's original .44 Magnum, I knew it was a place I had to experience.

I crammed my politics into a tiny corner of my brain and just tried to enjoy the props that make all movies more awesome-GUNS!  And besides the dorky joy of putting nose to glass with James Bond's Walther PPK or Josey Wales's Cold Walkers, it was fascinating to walk through America's history from the point of view of our firearms.  And the Theodore Roosevelt Trappings of an Icon exhibit was unreal.  Check out Teddy's elephant leg wastebasket or his lion skin rug!  Just absolutely crazy presidential hunter history!

And then there's The Maltese Falcon!  What?!?!  Yeah, I've done a little internet research and it looks to be the truth.  The NRA has one of two lead props used in The Maltese Falcon.  And that's freaking bananas to me, but apparently it comes from Dr. Gary Milian's props collection and I guess he was also a significant NRA contributor.  Bonkers.

I seriously can't believe it we spent nearly two hours there, but there a crap ton of guns to impossibly absorb.  Magnum PI.  Lethal Weapon.  The Shadow.  Die Hard.  Beverly Hills Cop.  Reservoir Dogs. Serenity.  Star Wars.   The Dark Knight.  And let's not forget John Wayne's eyepatch from True Grit or Henry Fonda's vest from My Darling Clementine. 

Finally we crawled out through the surreal crazy that is the gift shop.  Salt n Pepper shotgun shell shakers.  Butane Derringer lighters.  .44 Magnum earrings.  And in the far corner with the books detailing the fallacies of 911 and the importance of female defense were three copies of Charlton Heston's The Courage To Be Free...autographed.  Yeah, I snatched them up.  All in all, a day trip to the NRA turned into a shockingly good time for this dork.  And somewhat expensive.


Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Season 1:  After some time away, The Wife & I dove back into DS9.  When we were trying to watch a sprinkling from the various series she didn't seem to really connect with Terok Nor, but now that we're focusing only on Sisko & the gang she seems to be loving this Space Western.  Sure, 1st Season definitely has its problems.  The writers are still working out the characters with Sisko scowling too damn much and Kira yelling nearly all her dialog.  And like with most Star Trek shows there are too many space time anomalies and goofy bumpy heads from across the wormhole.  But the show only gets better.  And more so than any other Trek, DS9 really goes for serialized storytelling--and it's not just that Dominion stuff from the later seasons.  I dig the Bajor/Cardassian WWII parallels even when they're too preachy for their own good.  And we've had a ton of fun playing "Spot Morn" across the first season.  He's the best set decoration in all of Trekdom.


Total Recall:  A perfectly serviceable sci-fi remake, but stripped of all the crazy weird elements that made the original Arnie actioner so damn odd and compelling. No Mars. No Aliens. No Mutants. No "See You At The Party Richter" ultra gore. Colin Ferrell is just a confused double agent struggling to choose between two bland actresses. And what's the deal with The Fall invasion? Couldn't The Colony just dynamite that tunnel? Save themselves from a whole lot of robot warfare? And I'm supposed to buy a punch up between Farrell and Bryan Cranston? Yeah, don't think so.

Contagion:  Don't Touch Your Face! Steven Soderbergh delivers an intense pre-apocalypse pandemic in which a wide cast of characters scream into telephones and try not to foam at the mouth. Sure, there's nothing really special here--it's just another Outbreak--but I found the tracking of the virus to be quite compelling, and it was fascinating to see how different governments handled the impending doom.  Sure the characters work only depending on how much you enjoy the actors; they have to fill in a lot of the script, but Soderbergh establishes sickly fear thanks to simple closeups of hands on subway poles.  Just gross.

The Hunter:  "You'll Get Your Result!" Willem Dafoe ventures into the Australian wilderness in an effort to stalk and kill the supposedly extinct Tasmanian Tiger. It all has something to do with corporate espionage and frustrated loggers. Dafoe is given plenty of script to chew on and it's one of his finest recent performances as he transforms from setting steel traps to protecting his adopted tree hugger family. Plus, a crotchety Sam Neil! We need more of those in movies.

The Bourne Identity:  Can you believe it's been ten years? The Bourne Identity announced to the world that Matt Damon could be Tough with a capital T, and his tagalong dame Franke Potente gives a servicable performance as the walking Stockholm Syndrome. By no means is this the mega-awesomeness that some have labled it, but The Bourne Identity is a fun, thrilling Who Am I? chaser with some cool action set pieces, plus a great (underused) anti-Damon in Clive Owen. Their final country side shotgun battle is just a promise of the franchise's future cat & mouse brawls.

The Bourne Supremacy:  My least favorite of the three films.  I can appreciate the sudden dismissal of the Franka Potente character--what good is a content Bourne to us, but the revenge fueled action gets lost in Paul Greengrass's frantic camera. Yeah, I'm one of those shaky cam haters. Karl Urban is scary but he's no Clive Owen. Joan Allen is a tough foil but Brian Cox's spook villainy feels like it should be played closer to the foreground. The Bourne Supremacy hints at some serious backstory brooding but its all setup for the much superior Ultimatum.

The Bourne Ultimatum:  For the most part, Paul Greengrass's nausea cam continues to infuriate this viewer but I must recognize the utter brilliance of the Moroccan rooftop chase climaxing in the exploding glass apartment with books jabbing adam's apples and bath towels strangling CIA goons. The Paddy Considine reporter business bores me a touch, but once David Strathairn turns on his inner psycho and Albert Finney returns to the Ludlum-verse, The Bourne Ultimatum grabs on tight and boxes ya 'bout the ears. Still not a Bourne fanboy but this feels like a satisfyingly somber sendoff for Matt Damon's conflicted killer.  That is until he returns...again...

Attack The Block:  Trust. Believe. Attack The Block is the single best bit of nostalgic genre throwback I've experienced since John Carpenter's The Thing. And just like that '82 remake, Attack The Block manages to satisfy the past while establishing itself in the present. John Boyega is one of the great recent breakout stars and I need to see him in more movies NOW! He's an urban 15 year old samurai badass ready to take on Toshiro Mifune's iconic status. Bam. Hyperbole. Allow it. Sure, there's some nice little inner city commentary going on here, but at the end of the day this is a bloody beast of monster flick.  And you'll be hollering when they kill all dem things.

Jesse Stone - Benefit of the Doubt:  "I don't care about convictions, I care about Justice." Tom Selleck returns as the morally dubious and dismissive Paradise Police Chief, Jesse Stone. After his replacement explodes into a billion bits, Selleck returns to an empty police station to restart his reign in the small town. Eight films into the franchise and there is no sign of slowing down, both the William Sadler mafioso plot & the Saul Rubinek friendly evil car dealer stories gain new heat, but there's still plenty of room from fringe players like Stephen McHattie, William Devane, and Gloria Reuben. However, the standout performance has to go to Robert Carradine as the devious deer hunter tracking Selleck's movents. Their pullover encounter manages to be scary and pretty darn funny thanks to a few key eyebrow twitches from Carradine.  But, unfortunately, I don't think he'll be sticking around.

The Bourne Legacy:  Michael Clayton's Tony Gilroy takes the reins from Paul Greengrass and brings some of that much appreciated cold, calculating murder to the shaky cam action. Matt Damon may be on the run, but the introduction of Jeremy Renner's super soldier allows for some fascinating mythology building and I personally love the downplaying of close quarter combat for shifty screamy sin eaters like Edward Norton & Stacey Keach. But don't worry, there are at least two confrontations worthy of the Bourne mantel and Renner can crash a room just as well as Damon. Unfortunately the movie just ends. And the final battle between the generic and irrelevant Larx-8 is several badasses shy of a Clive Owen, Karl Urban, or Edgar Ramirez. Still, I look forward to the inevitable sequels and the eventual Renner on Damon action.

Dirty Harry:  When the Law gets in the way of Justice, there's Inspector Harry Callahan to 44 Magnum his way through the wretched sea of deviants overrunning the city of San Francisco. And when he's not blasting holes in bureaucratic red tape, Eastwood sneers and soapboxes against the puttzes in charge, condemning their weak rules and regulations. And once the iconic "Do You Feel Lucky?" was uttered a whole genre of one-liner action flicks was born.  Plus, Andrew Robinson is disgustingly terrifying as the Scorpio killer; his whiney voice and piggish squeals of pain are the stuff of nightmares.


Spider-Men #5:  Ok.  I've been loving this mini series, but how in the world is Bendis going to be able to wrap up all this madness with just one more issue?  Mysterio, the universe jumping bastard that sparked off this event has barely been seen, and Peter Parker has pretty much emotionally destroyed his Ultimate Universe family.  I seriously hope this has lasting effects on Miles Morales' universe and not just a chance to steal Parker's web shooters.  Still, this mini is much better than it has any right to be.

Godzilla - The Half Century War #1:  Speaking of being better than it should, the first issue of The Half Century War is freaking AWESOME!!!!!  Sure, I usually don't go for that manga look but Stokoe's kaiju is stunning.  There's one 2-page spread that dropped my jaw to the floor.  This is what Godzilla comics should look like and no other bit of pop culture has me as excited for a new Gojiro flick like this comic.  Can't wait to see when and where this incarnation pops up next in the timeline.

The Creep #1:  Not bad.  So far its a basic PI set up with a little Rondo Hatton thrown in.  Still, Jonathan Case's art is crisp (don't judge a book by its Frank Miller cover) and who doesn't like a good PI story.  Hopefully John Arcudi's script will take the characters into some surprising territory but it's just too early to tell if this is going to be great or only so-so.  But I'm on board for the ride.

Batman #12:  A standalone story taking the reader back to some of the events from the first issue.  Not sure I really care about this Harper Row character or not, and even if the gay bashing subplot offers some nice character beats, all I really care about at this point is The Night of the Owls and the impending return of The Joker.  This is a little glimpse into Gotham and I'm guessing Row has a major role to play at some point in Snyder's plan.  But...meh.


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