Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (3/17/13-3/23/13)

    On Sunday, I got all the fixin’s to really run my new fireplace.  Then there were some technical difficulties.  That took up a chunk of the day, really.  Otherwise, I mostly worked on some writing projects.  The rest of the week was mostly filled with trying to get some sleep and recover from work.  With limited success.

In a Lonely Place:  Possibly my favorite Humphrey Bogart performance, I’ve said it before, but to me, this film strikes closest to home.  He’s playing a somewhat more extreme version of me, or at least, how I feel.  When I watched it the first time, it felt kind of gut-punching.  On top of that, his relationship with Gloria Grahame is somehow charming and ugly at the same time.  Part of me would kill for a woman like her, able to get past the turbulence and still have my back, but part of me…Part of me feels differently about it.  It features plenty of the cracking dialog and implied meaning you expect from the time period (including what I think was a masturbation joke, but I’m not 100%).  And doesn’t play out the way a movie like this makes you expect.  Good stuff, all around.  And Grahame in this movie.  I can see myself falling for a dame like her, and getting into some real trouble.

2001:  You kind of have to go into this movie in the right headspace.  There’s no dialog in the first 20 minutes of the movie.  There’s no dialog for last 20 minutes of the movie.  There are long segments without dialog in between.  The final 20 minutes will likely make no sense to a first time viewer.  One might think it is simply a colorful series of random images and light patterns.  But there is a meaning behind it.  Whatever the case, I think the technical achievement is impressive on its own.  Even if you just look at the film as an extended music video, you should find plenty to enjoy.  And I do find that reading the book gave me a much deeper understanding of the film, although I’d come to enjoy the film on its own legs before I read it.  The story of Humanity’s rise from primate to extraterrestrial explorers to…something else, all with a guiding hand from…something…in the form of black monoliths.

Super 8: “I could get back into disco.”  An 80s kid adventure movie for a new generation.  In the tradition of Explorers, The Goonies, Critters, and more, not to mention E.T., Close Encounters, and more, it’s a fun look back.  I like the vibe, which reminds me somewhat of my childhood, and a lot of the movie I watched during it.  I just really enjoy the movie.  It’s pleasant and makes me feel nostalgic.

White Feather:  Robert Wagner and original Enterprise Captain, Jeffery Hunter, along with smokin’ hottie Debra Paget in…redface?  This is another of those movies about Native Americans where there seem to be no Native Americans on screen.  Just white people in red-brown face paint, speaking in halting English, with very false graveness.  Wagner is fine, and Jeffery Hunter is…well, he’s not as bad as he could be…I mean, he’s fine, I guess.  If you can get over the whole playing an Indian thing.  If this movie is any indication, apparently Native Americans had nothing to do but spend all day killing white people and raising all kinds of school-yard level Cain among their own.  It’s pranks and stunts broken up by occasional murder.  And am I nuts, or does Chief Broken Hand look like Carl Sagan?  Whatever the case, I’m pretty sure kicking the door open to my room and finding a beautiful woman naked but for a fur blanket would make my top 10 best moments in life.  Gotta see about making that happen.  But what’s up with the shop-keep’s daughter?  She gets slighted in the most brutal ways, and the movie never seems to notice, as her heart gets ripped out time and again.  Dang, that’s some cold business.

Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen:  “I’ve seen many things fall out of the sky, but nothing which could be described as weird.”  I don’t know, man.  I just don’t know.  By this point, Doctor Who seems to have simply gone off its rocker.  It’s all very 80s, very 2000AD (the comicbook) wacky.  I just don’t think it’s all that good.  A space bus full of alien tourists (and Mel…and another alien trying to save her people stowing away…and an alien bounty hunter) on its way back to 1950s Disneyland runs into a satellite.  And they all crash in Wales, which is British for North Dakota.  Rock & Roll, dancing, puppy-love, crystals for star-drives, giant green Army Men, bounty hunters, the Welsh… This is like that cockroach episode of The X-Files or something from season 3 of Lexx…only really weird.  It feels like this story set the stage for the bugnuttery of the new series.  Sometimes it works, this time it doesn’t.  Whatever else one can say about this episode, the woman playing Delta is a stunner, and the Welsh lass helping the Doctor is cute as heck.  And I still can’t stand Mel.

Rust and Bone:  The movie is well made.  It’s well acted, I guess.  The effects/acting combo of the lead actress’s missing legs is believable and technically well done.  I can’t say I didn’t like the movie.  Or at least, I didn’t dislike it.  But it wanders so much, and doesn’t follow any kind of rational progression.  I never connected with anyone in the movie, as they all seem emotionally dead (you’d think I’d connect right away).  I’ll give ‘em an A for effort when it comes to original and unexpected stories.  A shifty street fighter with a kid and few prospects meets an orca trainer at a nightclub.  After an accident takes the trainer’s legs, the pair begin a friendship (they seem to think it’s a romance, but it’s just about the most pathetic romance two humans could have) that defies convention…and logic.  His emotionally unavailable standoffishness and incessant tail chasing are irresistible to her mopiness and equal emotional standoffishness.  There are moments between them where you want to say, ‘hey, that’s swell.’  But then he hooks up with some blonde tart right in front of our lead lady, and bails on the night to go bone the bimbo.  That ain’t right, no matter how you deal the deck.  And when our double amputee begins working as Punchy’s fight agent, there is an image that made me desperate for the film to depart into exploitation territory with her becoming Legs, Queen of the Underworld.  Alas, nothing ever seems to come of anything…at all.  It’s different.  And it’s a quality piece of work on the technical side.  But I can’t recommend watching it.

Doctor Who: Dragonfire:  “I think you’ll find most educated people regard mythical convictions as fundamentally animistic.”  And now we’re back to something more reasonable.  This era is all over the place.  Paradise Towers and Dragonfire are focused, weird and 80s, but focused; while Time & the Rani and Delta & the Bannermen are sloppy messes.  McCoy seems like he’s got a different take on the Doctor each time out.  This time ‘round he’s more like he was in Paradise Towers, a bit of wacky Patrick Troughton but with enough grounding to buy in, unlike his pratfall prone antics in Time & the Rani, but also unlike his knowing madman in Delta.  The story of a crazy Dr. Freeze type trying to build an army and everyone looking for some dragon in the depths.  Little Orphan Ace blasts herself into the Who universe with homemade explosives and streetwise pluck.  And who would have thought Sabalom Glitz would become a recurring character?  That’s weird.  The dragon is crazy, man.  Crazy.  And I’ve noticed that this season features Lexx level of off the cuff murder and massacre.

    One bit of good/fun news.  I got back into Magnum P.I.  I’d been missing the ‘stache.  It’s amazing how much joy such a simple thing can bring.  I don’t know how much the addition of the Asian Colombo (Tanaka) helped things.  And I’ve noticed a strange feature in late 70s and 80s TV shows that feature aging actors playing aging actors.  I wonder why that was.  I wonder if there were a bunch of Tarantino-types working in TV who wanted to give all their old favorites one more go.

    I finished the first At War With the Empire omnibus of Star Wars comics.  A mixed bag, but enjoyable enough light entertainment.  Star Wars is a setting with so much potential for development, I wish they’d branch out a bit more in comics than they tend to.

    On Saturday I went to a house warming for a gaming buddy from my days working at The Wizard’s Den.  He and his family recently moved to the area.  It was my first time in Southern Maryland, which wasn’t bad.  He charged up a smoker, and we had a heck of a barbeque.  His wife and mother-in-law also provided some awesome food.  There’s magic in sitting on a deck in the sun, roasting meat and sharing food with people.


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