Monday, January 14, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (1/6-1/12)

    Starting my week, I was still working my way through the end of a nasty cold.  But I was well enough to take a quick trip over to Trader Joe’s, where I got the fixins for a frickin’ fantastic soup.  Diced green onions, a half a yellow onion, some mushrooms, some sliced potatoes, some chicken broth and a bit of oil and sauce.  That’s really about it.  But HOLY CRAP it was like eating heaven.  Eating hearty soup and listening to old timey radio shows on The Big Broadcast.  Doesn’t get much better.

The Long Hair of Death:  Another early Barbara Steele Italian horror film, this one is not as technically well done as An Angel for Satan, but still features some fantastic location shooting and a general creepy mood.  Bad dubbing doesn’t help, but with an innocent woman cursing a family while burning at the stake, the plague running rampant, and zombie avenger Steele, it’s got all kind of melodramatic crazy.  This movie does show the danger of being a murderer/conspirator in a castle where nobody ever goes to sleep; they just spend every night wandering around every danged part of the castle.  Like An Angel for Satan, this feels very much in the Roger Corman doing Poe movie style.

The Fruit is Ripe:  Fairly typical Euro-trash comedy.  Betty Verges is very pretty, but the movie is annoying.  Exceptionally awful music pokes at your brain continuously (seriously, they play that one song like 10 times), and Betty’s Patricia is a fickle, vacuous jerk.  I guess you’re supposed to think Patricia is a cool chick, but after she professes love for this Tom guy, she presents herself like a chimp in heat to every dude around, then gets all offended when he gets fed up and leaves, and blames him for their love not working out.  He didn’t have sex with a Greek dancer while out on a date with you, slag.  Anyway.  Again, Verges is very beautiful, looking like a 70s or early 80s Playmate (back when Playboy still featured different, natural women, not just the plastic blonde fembots of the last 20 years).  But it’s a really crappy movie.  Shocking, I know.

The American:  “Anything I’ve done, I’ve had good cause to do.”  One of those movies I can just pop in, The American feels like a throwback to 70s European spy/assassin films.  But with the story structure of a 70s Western.  A past haunted stranger comes to town, befriends a priest and a prostitute, and awaits the violence he knows will catch up with him.  Quiet Clooney, an old Italian village, beautiful countryside, gorgeous European women, and atmospheric music.  A dandy film.

Ted:  “This is art…Get it?”  Switch out Ted the teddy bear with Jason Lee or some other sketchy dude, and this is pretty much any other romantic comedy about a guy who loves a lady who wants her dude to act more ‘mature’ (mature meaning boring).  But the devil is in the details.  It really is darned funny, and the surreal bits are what keep it going.  In a never ending battle against people who have pictures of themselves with Tom Skerritt (not to mention Tiffany fans), one kinda dim bulb and his stuffed bear try to win the day.  But smoking weed with a talking teddy bear and watching Flash Gordon seems like a lot more fun.  As much as Mark Walberg annoys the crap out of me, he is oddly charming in this (like a mentally challenged puppy who does funny tricks) and the script has some genuinely clever bits.

The Bushido Blade:  Richard Boone looks like he’s on the verge of death.  The production is shoddy, and feels made for television.  The story seems like it could be pretty good if redone with a better crew.  It’s weird seeing Euro-sleaze starlet Laura Gemser in a role where she keeps her clothes on…for a while.  And at least she’s not supposed to be full blooded Japanese.  This is really not a good movie.

Dracula Blows His Cool:  “I’m especially impressed with your bizarre sense of sadism.”  I make mistakes.  Having access to NetFlix’s rather large library of crappy films, I sometimes watch things I should know not to bother with.  Still, seeing the very cute Betty Verges earlier this week, I thought I’d try another of her movies.  Horrible dubbing, unfunny jokes, and a stupid story.  I guess that’s to be expected.  Lots of nudity, which is also kind of expected in movies like this.  But it’s not good.  Not even really MST3K good.

Double Dragon:  What was originally just put on as background noise, ended up being so crappy I couldn’t help but pay attention.  It’s total garbage, but Robert Patrick’s crazy flattop is the business.  Scott Wolf is so pathetic, and that goofy looking blonde boy-hair Alyssa Milano…Wow.  I remember hating this movie when it first came out, and I was right to do so.

Lifespan:  A young scientist (who looks freakishly like Cyclopes from the X-Men movies) on the hunt for the secret of immortality travels to Amsterdam in order to work with another in the field.  When that doesn’t work out, he stays on and pursues the research among strange folk.  I was surprised that this movie actually touched on as much real science as it did.  The cinematography and editing felt a bit shabby, not helped by the bad dubbing.  But it was a cool premise with less technobabble, and more actual science than you get in most sci-fi horror films.  The b&d subplot kind of comes out of nowhere.

A Serious Man:  “But even though you can’t figure anything out, you will be responsible for it on the midterm.”  The Coen brothers explore the memory of their parents and their childhood in this odd tale of a quiet, suburban, Jewish man trying to get by in a world that doesn’t seem to want him to have a quiet, suburban, Jewish life.  His wife is leaving him, his brother is mooching, his student is trying to bribe him, his son wants to watch F-Troop, and dang lawyers cost a lot of money.  Life should be A-OK.  He’s living the American Dream.  But it isn’t working out.  Something is up.

    I finally got back into Sapphire & Steel, a show I find interesting, but can’t sing the praises of.  Of course, part of the problem is that I just don’t care for Joanna Lumley.  However, this, the fourth series was the best so far.  The villain-thing Shape is super-creepy.

    I finally finished a book.  With far too many going at once, I’ve been making precious little progress in any.  But I finished Lost to the West, which was really, really good.  An almost novel like history of Byzantium from a little before Constantine’s conversion to Christianity up to Constantine XI’s kind of amazing end, with so many wild characters and amazing events in between.

    I also read the graphic novels Higher Earth and Cold Space.


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