Friday, August 24, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (8/12/12-8/18/12)

    Busy week, but not much in the way of Dork.  I did finish off some TV seasons, though.

The Red House:  If Edward G. Robinson tells me not to do something, I bloody well don’t do it.  That’s science.  Who cares if anyone calls you yellow.  Stay out of the danged evil forest (Ox Head Wood).  Stay away from the Red House.  I kept feeling like those inbred freaks, the Peacocks, form that X-Files episode were going to show up with Momma on her little roller thingy.  I’d also be nervous whenever a giant, strapping young letch lurked around my farm (I’m looking at you, finger pointing Rory Calhoun).  And if you’re a straight shooting, swell young chap, don’t date a fickle, sex-charged harlot (or anyone named Tibby).  This movie is extremely moody, and the first half builds a ton of tension.  The reveal isn’t quite as interesting as I’d have liked, but it’s still good.  And it’s not the Scooby-Doo, rum-runner/communist plot I was expecting.

The Return of the King (Extended):  The final entry in the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy is as grand and dramatic as you could ask for.  Beautiful effects and an excellent cast combine with a script that cuts out much of the books’ excess, creating a work I actually consider superior to its source.  Tolkien’s world is imagined with nearly unprecedented grandeur and detail.  Some complain that the movie goes on too long, but I like all the various wrap-ups of tales.  My only real issue is a hold over from the book.  I think the ghost army that helps in the penultimate battle is kind of a cop-out, deus ex machina sort of thing.

The Girl from Rio:  “What kind of a space age sorceress are you?”  About half way into this, I found myself saying something I say all too often while watching Jess Franco movies; “What the F&*% is going on?!”  Lots of moderately attractive, extremely European looking women wear lots of skimpy outfits (and occasionally less).  Lots of bad editing.  People look like they’ve got spray-on tans.  There’s a lot of awkward focus adjusting.  It’s all classic Franco.  His films are frustrating because they seem to have a lot of the right elements for making something entertaining…but then he shows up and mishandles everything.

The Occultist:  On an exotic island…which looks suspiciously like an abandoned warehouse in New York, a bunch of bad actors and extras from Breakin’ 2 (yes, Electric Boogaloo), spend a lot of time dancing.  In the meantime, some of those sweater wearing jerks from Brat Pack movies like to watch.  Oh, yeah.  And a guy who looks a lot like Dave Coulier is a cyborg or something.  News flash.  This flick sucks.  It’s mildly entertaining, and almost certainly better with friends.

The Bourne Legacy:  I’ve enjoyed the heck out of all the Bourne films so far, and though perhaps not as good as some of the earlier entries, this one does the job.  With a new super-agent gone funny, and lots of governmental conspiracy, there’s not really anything new, but it’s fun to watch play out, none the less.  There are two strikes against the film for this viewer.  First, Rachel Weisz, who is one of my very favorite actresses, and who usually plays interesting characters, is little more than the pretty girl our hero spends his time defending.  Ugh.  She’s less vacuous than the damsel in distress tends to be, but it’s still kind of beneath the actress, and in this day and age, beneath the writers.  The second problem is the climactic chase scene.  It goes on for WAAAAY too long, and is almost as choppy and motion-sickness inducing as the Hunger Games.  Pull that danged camera back, and put it on a tripod, for the love of all that is good and holy.  When will this obsession with ultra-close, hand-held camera work end?  Not flippin’ soon enough.  Still, the cast is good, most of the action is good, and the first two thirds of the film is very enjoyable to watch.  The end is somewhat unsatisfying (in part because of that final chase), but it‘s worth checking out.

The Expendables:  Lots of blood, sweat, muscles, and mayhem explode on the screen as action heroes old and new come together in the tropics to get some killing done.  A lot of the mad violence promised by 80s trailers, but never delivered, is here and flying at the screen in bloody chunks.  While not nearly as violent as Rambo, it’s still part of the new trend of making R rated action films that actually deserve it (not the hardly worthy of PG-13 stuff they were passing off as R rated in the 90s).  You want complex characters and a meditation on the human condition?  What are you doing watching movies like this?  Check it out if you want to see stuff (and people) blowing up, and big dudes bashing each other.

Eastern Promises:  “I am just driver.”  Viggo is the strong silent type.  And typically Vincent Cassel is the sniveling punk.  Together they set London’s underground on fire, Russian mob style.  Part of David Cronenberg’s late, drama period, this movie still features his signature graphic ultra-violence.  Using his harsh, stretched leather features to their full advantage, Viggo creates a rugged beast of crime that no amount of naked, bathhouse slaughter can keep down.  Though I don’t love this film like I do A History of Violence, it is pretty badass.

La Ronde:  I guess you don’t call ’em French maid costumes when the movie is French; just maid costumes.  This semi-whimsical sexual romp through pre-War (WWI) society is well filmed, I guess.  And the cast good looking (unlike a lot of French film, the guys don’t look like trolls).  But I couldn’t get into it.  I’m actually not sure why I queued it up in the first place.  It’s all very French (in other words, a bit pervy and kind of boring, with more sexual repression, dysfunction, and frustration than a Televangelist at a truck stop).  There’s something oddly charming about bits of the film, though, especially the very end.  Still, not my thing.

The Expendables 2:  Jumping right to the top of my 2012 movie list, this movie has so much testosterone pumping through it, I think most of the audience went away pregnant (and not just the female half).  Kind of like Crank 2 was to Crank, this was to the first Expendables.  To say the least, they turned it to 11.  Old action stars keep popping their head in, as bullets keep popping bad guys.  Blood and explosions spray everything and the one-liners and self-referential jokes never let up.  I was giddy for an uncomfortable amount of time while watching (and after).  Fan-freakin’-tastic.  Now, where’s my meal of baby seals and whale ass…in the summer?  Now when is Expendables 3 coming?!

The Bionic Woman Season 1:  This spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man is perfectly enjoyable, but to a degree, just more of the same.  The episodes are well done, and it’s got tons of those folk you see in every TV show made during this time.  Awesomely 70s.  Not as campy as Charlie’s Angels but still plenty of fun.

Magnum P.I. Season 1:  The man has a mustache you can not argue with.  A dashing rogue, a difficult friend, a white knight looking for a cause.  Magnum is all of those things and more in this awesome bit of 70s crazy.  One of those awesome shows that lives up to my memory of watching it so long ago.

Blue Hawaii:  “On you, wet is my favorite color.”  Keeping with my recent spate of Hawaii set entertainment, I popped in this classic Elvis movie.  Hawaii in the 60s and 70s held this kind of sway over pop culture.  An exotic and mysterious land that was somehow still part of the United States.  A tropical paradise filled with beautiful women, excitement, and wonder.  Elvis just wants to surf, not be a wealthy scion of mainland imperialist agriculture.  You can certainly see Elvis’ charm, and while he might not be an amazing actor, he’s got good comic timing.

Stage Door Canteen:  “Are you Ray Bolger?”  I’m not sure who the audience for this film was.  It’s about departing troops, heading to Europe to fight Hitler & Co (or the Pacific to battle Tojo, maybe).  Was this meant to reassure those left behind that their boys weren’t up to too much sin and mischief while they were out of town?   It features a bunch of celebrity cameos and performances, which I hate to admit didn’t excite me as much as they might have.  I’m fairly familiar with the entertainment crowd of that era, but not enough, I guess.  A lot of familiar faces, but a lot of folks I didn’t know at all.  It all felt very ‘of its time,’ and ultra-sanitized.  But it’s still somewhat charming.  “Buy War Bonds!!!”

Let’s go Collegiate:  Keye Luke as a frat boy.  That’s just not something I ever thought I’d see.  This OK bit of fluff from 1941 is enjoyable, but no classic.  Frankie Darro is typically up to no good, frequently abusing his…servant? played by the cringe inducing Mantan Moreland.  All kinds of college wackiness is on display.

    I made Ben watch the first episode of Game of Thrones.  He seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.  I’m looking forward to finishing the series in the next week or so.  Can’t wait for season 2.  I’m curious where it all goes.

    And I started up season 2 of Batman: The Animated Series.  Darned fine show.  I wish there were more like it.  And I popped in the first episode of Coupling, the surprisingly charming British sit-com.  I forgot that it had a laugh track/live audience, though.  Man, I hate those.  But it’s not too overpowering.

    In preparation for the next meeting of the graphic novel book club, I re-read Habibi.  It’s an interesting book.  The story does not go in the directions you would expect, or even want.  It’s rough, but kind of beautiful.  The art is really something special.


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