Monday, May 6, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (4/28/13-5/6/13)

    Sunday, Ben and I stopped into Comics and Gaming, a new shop in downtown Fairfax.  It seems like a good location, and the folks were friendly.  A bit more magic-focused than I’d like, but that’s what brings in the bread.  It’s nice to have a game store somewhere nearby, though.  The only other one I know of is about 10 or 15 miles away, and frankly, has the smell of death about it.  Maybe I’ll be able to dust off the old tabletop games again, as hosting game night at my place kind of petered out, with everyone being so busy all the time (edit: I went to the Gainesville location later in the week and wanted to reach across the counter and deck the employee, so you never can tell).

Pain & Gain:  “Jesus Christ has blessed me with many gifts; one of them is knocking someone the f&%k out.”  This is the best Michael Bay movie ever.  Hands down.  It’s also probably the best Marky Mark movie.  Three giant dumbass muscle heads stupid their way through a life of crime.  Time and again, you just can’t believe people would be this dumb, and yet… Though I’m quite sure there were plenty of liberties taken, the movie does have to remind you it is based on a true story.  Seriously.  It’s so dumb, but it’s so funny, but it’s so dumb.  Dwayne Johnson is a mad genius.  He’s snorting coke of a stripper’s ass and loving Jesus like it’s his job.  Fantastic.  From what I understand, some things were changed/dropped from the real story of these Three Musketeers of Muscle because they were so stupid and insane the filmmakers figured the viewing audience wouldn’t be able to suspend disbelief.  Truth being once again, stranger than fiction.  Like pretty much all Michael Bay films, it is a bit overlong.  But, unlike most, I wasn’t bored.  It’s kind of like an extended dramatization of a Darwin Awards entry.

I believe in fitness.

    On Sunday afternoon, I burned through the first two volumes of Scott Snyder’s new Swamp Thing series, still riding the high of finishing up Alan Moore’s six volume cycle.  So far, so good.  There are a few things I’m not in love with.  But for DC today, it’s right up at the top.  I’m generally not too impressed with most of what I’ve read from DC’s New 52 (or their other stuff…or from Marvel, for that matter).  But this is good.  Bring on Rotworld, I guess.  And I read another volume of Invincible.  Dang, that’s a fine comic.  So stressful, but so good.  The best superhero comic out there.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me:  “Don’t worry momma.  Things won’t get weird.”  Time travel, mojo theft, a fat bastard, a mini-clone, chest hair, and a young Number 2.  The second outing for idiocy’s answer to James Bond, Flint, and Matt Helm strolls back into my cold, dead heart.  These movies are so appallingly stupid, and I love ever ham-fisted and ignorant moment.  Sight gags, references, goofing off.  You have to be kind of smart to be this unbelievably stupid.  And if that statement is correct, they had to be really, really smart to make this film.  I know many don’t like the third film in the franchise, but I think they get better with each movie.  This one is more together, with consistent laughs than the first.  Also, check out the scene that plays during the credits…the one with two Austins.  Yeah, that’s gonna be me after the advent of cloning.  Get ready world.  Get ready.

Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol:  “I make sweets!”  Like Paradise Towers, this story arc always stuck out in my memories of Sylvester McCoy’s tenure as The Doctor (fooling my memory into believing I liked his years in the role).  Also like that story, this one features an Earth colony turned horrible distopia, with an ultra-80s 2000AD/Max Headroom/Mad Max vibe.  Kandy Man, man.  Holy nuts.  Kandy Man.  Is this a great story?  No.  But it’s so wacky and weird, and the visuals so much fun, it still holds a place in my heart.  So far, the good VS. awful is about 50/50 for the McCoy years.

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home:  “How’d a nice girl like you get to become a…citation biologist?”  The final film in the trilogy within the series, this time we find Kirk and crew hobbling home in a Klingon ship when Earth gets assaulted by an alien probe.  With some rather startling leaps of logic and faith, they head back in time to find some humpback whales who might be able to drive off the probe.  You know.  That old story.  Once they get to San Francisco of the 1980s, it becomes an Escape from Planet of the Apes style ‘aren’t we all crazy?!’ kind of look at then contemporary culture.  The film has all the subtlety of Michael Bay directing a Ke$ha video, but it’s charmingly light hearted, and a nice breath after the heavy stuff in parts II and III.

Breathless:  “Guess I always kinda liked cuttin’ stuff up.”  I’m not sure quite what this movie was aiming for.  Clearly, it’s at least partially an attempt to do a Tarantino film, with all the stylized dialog and weird combination of knowledgeable yet dumb as post kind of petty criminals.  It reminds me a bit of Bound, though it lacks a good deal of that film’s charm.  The Texan idiocy is a bit tough to sit through.  About 30 minutes in, I realized it was going to be one of those ‘one location’ films.  As such, it’s not bad.  But it has some low budget/film school failings.  The dialog is a bit too self aware, the performances a bit too affected.  Still, it’s OK.

Beyond the Black Rainbow:  Looking back, this should probably have been on my top 10 of 2012 (yes, it came out before in Canada, but only became available in the States last year, so I count it).  It reaches back into the late 60s, the 70s, and early 80s, to the Hippie and post-Hippie, New Age, Utopian idealism, science and drug fueled dreaming of transcendent reality shift.  Those folk who wanted to unshackle humanity from its traditions, reach for something new, and become more than human.  The film lives in the dwindling days of their shattered dreams.  This was the stuff I was most fascinated by while watching the middle seasons of Lost, with the Dharma Initiative, those broken dreams of failed seekers.  The sinister side of the quest for perfection.  These people dropped the ceremony and jargon of traditional religion, but held on to the mindset, still trying to fill a nonexistent void with aspirations for a better world forever out of reach.  The operatic and surreal score, as well as the ultra-saturated colors, and intentionally jarring editing create that feel of early David Cronenberg or Don Coscarelli.  It’s simultaneously hypnotic and disquieting, beautiful and grotesque.  If you haunted video stores in the late 80s and early 90s, picking through the weird movies you’d never heard of, hoping to find a lost gem, check this movie out.  That’s the feeling I get when I watch it, like when I saw Lifeforce for the first time, Logan’s Run,  Idaho Transfer, Lightyears, or The Company of Wolves.

    And I read an advanced reader copy of Ashley Cardiff’s upcoming book Night Terrors.  I don’t know if it’s going to be released as a humor book, or a sex book, or just a memoir.  Whatever the case, it’s a danged funny, extremely dirty, and occasionally dark look at becoming an adult in this era.  Cardiff looks at the world in a way not unlike my own, and went through similar growing pains, so I frequently empathized with her in all her awkward and confused glory.

    On Saturday, Brad and I did a comic shop crawl.  Other than one obnoxious jerkwad running a register at the last place we hit up, it was a good time and a good day.  The selection this year seemed a bit sparse, and perhaps a touch uninteresting.  But the turnout seemed good, especially among families with kids.  That’s heartening.  Later on Saturday a fairly large group of us went out to the newly opened Alamo Draft House Theater to see Iron Man 3.  The place seems pretty cool.  They serve you food where you sit.  You’ve got a nice shelf in front of you where you can keep your food.  The prices are competitive (popcorn is fairly cheap for a theater, actually).  And the experience is pretty good.  Can’t wait to go out in a couple weeks to see They Live (with sunglasses and bubblegum).

Iron Man 3:  Did you like the first two Iron Man films?  If so, you should enjoy this.  If not, this won’t change your mind.  I feel similarly lukewarm on all three, though I think they’ve gotten marginally better each installment.  Robert Downey Jr. is less charming in this film, relying instead his impeccable comic timing.  Honestly, the story felt kind of superfluous, with few interesting moments.  The Extremis business has potential, but as was the case when I made a brief attempt at reading an Iron Man comic, it doesn’t work.  There are parts of the beginning and middle that were really interesting, but the final mega-action battle at the shipyard was glaringly uninspired.  The stunts and suit-gags stopped wowing me sometime near the middle of the first film, and they feel like extremely old hat here, like an ancient stand-up comedian dragging out the same jokes night after night.  It’s fun enough popcorn entertainment.  But I still prefer Thor and the first two thirds of Captain America.


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