Thursday, September 6, 2012

Matt’s Week in Dork! (8/26/12-9/1/12)

    Ouch.  Not my best week.  A week to crawl into a corner and lick wounds.  Which I did, and as it’s me, there was a movie playing the whole time.

Die Nibelungen- Kriemhild’s Revenge:  Right off the bat, this movie had more Huns in it than I was expecting.  Kriemhild’s quest for vengeance against the dirtbags who literally stabbed her husband in the back takes her into the tent of Attila.  OK.  There’s a lot of talk about loyalty in this, and the ‘loyal German soul.’  But everything could be solved if everyone just handed over the betraying murderer of Siegfried and of a baby.  I mean, he’s a scumbag and needs to die.  Frankly, the king should have put him down like a dog himself.  Forget loyalty, man.  It’s a two way street.  There comes a point where you have to realize that some people bring ruin upon themselves, and the only thing to do is step aside and let nature take its course.  Where was all this talk of loyalty while this baby killing/Siegfried stabber was working with a foreign queen to betray the king, his sister, and his best friend?  Now it’s supposed to be heroic to stand at such a piece of crap’s defense?  Forget that.  Almost all the really good stuff is in the first half of the first film.  This movie feels like an extended afterthought.

The Bourne Identity:  Jason, would you please stop throwing away guns!  When a super-soldier has a brain glitch and wakes up in the Mediterranean, he’s got to figure out who he is, what he’s been up to, and who wants him dead.  I never thought much of the idea of Matt Damon as an action hero, but he pulls it off competently here.  The movie isn’t some kind of game changer.  It’s not amazing.  But it’s a solid action thriller with a good cast and plenty of exotic locations.  If I’m ever shot twice in the back and fished out of the ocean with a bad case of the amnesia, I hope Franka Potente is the fist chick I run into.

The Bourne Supremacy:  I enjoy these films.  I do.  But this one has one pet peeve of mine right off the bat.  Scriptwriters seem at a loss when it comes to writing couples, especially in action films, so when Bourne’s lady made it through the first film there were two ways it would play out.  Either she’d be ignored and forgotten in the next movie (see the Bond franchise), or she’d be killed off in the first few minutes.  Getting past that, this movie is more of the same action packed espionage.  Solid, fast paced action with plenty of twists and turns.  Sadly, it is part of the modern school of shaky-cam action.  Not as bad as many, but still, is a tripod that expensive?

The Bourne Ultimatum:  Jason Bourne is back, being chased by shaky-cams and a who’s who of art-house/character actors.  More layers of the onion are pealed back, to reveal yet more interesting actors.  If you enjoyed the first two films, there’s plenty more of what they had.  Again, not breaking a lot of new ground in the spy/action thriller genre, but perfectly fine.  I feel like there’s some kind of direction they could take this series in that would be really interesting (not sure what it would be), but having seen the fourth film (without Damon), it seems they’ll keep doing much the same stuff.  There’s potential here, but I think we’ll get workmanlike entries for years to come, which isn’t bad, just not great.

Terror is a Man:  Yet another not very good movie inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.  It’s boring and not very well made.  The bottle blond bimbo is weird, and the lead gives off a serious creeper vibe.  Sadly, this movie never comes close to living up to its potential.  It’s just dull.

The Flesh Eaters:  “I can assure you, we are in for a good pounding.”  It starts out promising, with a seriously cute girl losing her top (before getting eaten by oil?).  Straight out of Long Island, yo.  After landing on one of those mysterious, uninhabited islands just outside of New York City, our intrepid adventurers come across some weird trouble.  And that’s just the local marine biologist.  This movie is kind of awesome.  It’s very weird, with some strange characters and dialog, but it’s strangely charming and charmingly strange.

Conan the Barbarian:  “Crom.  I have not prayed to you before.  I have no tongue for it.  No one, not even you will remember why we fought, why we died.  What matters is that two stood against many.  That’s what’s important.”  Though the details of his origin are frustratingly wrong for this Robert E. Howard fan, this still stands as one of the best films ever made.  Yup.  Said it.  Great music, great production design, some really kick-ass fights.  Like some of my favorite films, it takes its time and doesn’t fill space with needless talk.  Though I still hope not, I expect that this will remain the closest thing to Howard’s stories we’ll ever see.  No camp, serious, and quality.  Arnold doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s spot-on.  James Earl Jones makes a scary villain.

Doctor Who: Planet of Fire:  One of the best looking episodes since the height of Tom Baker’s run, it also feels a bit grander, more ambitious.  Good sets and great location shooting.  I guess that’s a good thing for one of the final Peter Davison stories.  It also introduces Peri, a woman of rather startling dimension(s).  I was also psyched to see Peter Wyngarde (Jason King lives!!!) doing an nice Peter O’Toole.  It’s too bad that it feels like Davison is finally coming in to his own, just as he’s on his way out.  Of course, it helps to not have Tegan.  Man, it helps.

Outcasts:  “You know nothing of my morality, you insect.”  A lot of potential, never really achieved.  Most of the characters are too overwrought to be as interesting as they should be.  The struggles are a bit too obvious.  And the mystery a bit too reminiscent of Earth 2 and Solaris.  It kept feeling like it could have gotten really interesting, but never steps up to the plate.  Chalk this one up on the ‘almost’ list.

The Garment Jungle:  Lee J. Cobb heads an excellent cast in this tale of horror and corruption in the garment business of New York.  Murder, mayhem, and betrayal.  Unions VS. business, hired guns and idealists.  Can Robert Loggia and his fiery Latin wife win against Richard Boone’s smooth thug Wesley Addy?  Can Kerwin Mathews set everything on the right path?  A story about right and wrong, justice and oppression, and a father and son.

The Law:  I guess I’m still to American-centric when it comes to comedy, ‘cause generally I either don’t get this, or don’t find it funny when I do.  The shabby Italian village is all kinds of old world charming, and the ladies are lovely.  But I still don’t think much of the way European men treat women in film.  Otherwise, the sequence of coastal fishing is a highlight.  I found that genuinely fascinating.

Legend of the Fist:  Man, if we could have just found twenty or thirty really good martial artists, we could’a taken down the Keizer in no time.  With attempted touches of Casablanca (more than just the club’s name) and other call backs to older films, it plays a bit (!) fast and loose with history, but this is by Andrew Lau (Hong Kong’s answer to Michael Bay), so no shocks there.  Lau regular Shu Qi shows up to play a femme fatale.  I love the British Stanley Tucci looking dude, even if he can’t act a bit.  Subtlety is not one of Lau’s strong points, so if you’re looking for it, go elsewhere.  The film is all kinds of chest pounding and flag waving.  Though I’ll admit that the strong nationalism is a little hard to swallow when you think of where China would soon go.  Not that Japan wasn’t guilty of extreme horror.  It was.  Or that China’s allies didn’t turn their backs on her in her hour of need.  They did.  But the Chinese system that rose out of this time was a bloody nightmare, too.

Jailhouse Rock:  “That ain’t tactics, honey.  It’s just the beast in me.”  Don’t mess with Elvis or he’ll punch you dead.  He’s kind of a rebel without a clue here.  His run-in with some hip rich people is fantastic.  What a halfcocked dimwit.  It’s hard to root for him, ‘cause he’s kind of a tool.  But the music is nice, the girl is cute, and hey, it’s rock & roll, man.

    I’m making a specific and concerted effort to finally watch The Prisoner from start to finish.  Such a fine show, that I’ve somehow managed to never see in its entirety.  Oddly ended up seeing Peter Wyngarde twice in as many days, thanks to watching the episode ‘Checkmate’ and the Doctor Who story Planet of Fire.  Awesome.

    I read Christopher Hitchens’ book Mortality, about his cancer diagnosis and eventual death.  It’s a rough read, but full of Hitchens’ usual strength.


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