Sunday, July 21, 2013

Matt’s Week in Dork! (7/14/13-7/20/13)

    With co-Dork Brad and many others on the left coast this week for the Nerd Jamboree, Comic-Con, I have remained here, keeping the light on.  Not a particularly exciting week, but not a bad one, either.

Game of Thrones Season 2:  Watching a regular episode of this show can be stressful, because you know anyone could die at any point, but watching the last couple episodes, you know death is riding.  The second season of the show is quite good, though it gets off to a wonky start.  Look, I love me some nudity and I’m no prude, but the first two episodes had me looking at my watch thinking, ‘can we please just put the tits away and get on with the story?’  And then they do, and the rest of the season keeps it balanced pretty well.  Peter Dinklage remains my favorite part, though there’s plenty to love.  His character is probably the most interesting and he plays it with gusto.  I haven’t read the books, and frankly, have no interest.  But my hope is that Tyrion Lannister is the last man standing to claim the throne.  If you don’t mind wall to wall swearing, violence, and sex, this series is a great companion to the Lord of the Rings films.  It feels like Middle Earth in the centuries after the King.

King Kong:  One of my all time favorite films, I was super excited to see it on the big screen.  However, some awful, literally snot-nosed little kid that couldn’t keep still pretty much ruined it for me.  Whatever.  Still one of the great movies, and a must see.  But parents, either don’t take the kids, or serve as a buffer between them and strangers.  Don’t let your hyperactive, sinus-shunt needing spawn ruin a someone’s 30 year aspiration.  Dick.

FDR: American Badass:  “I’m a motorcycle of death.  I ain’t got no sidecar.”  You have to know, going into this, that a movie called FDR: American Badass is not going to be some classy discussion of the life of an American president.  It’s about a guy who gets polio from Nazi werewolves, becomes President, smokes Lincoln inducing weed, and personally leads the attack on werewolf Hitler and Mussalini.  It’s crass, stupid, goofy, awkward, extremely cheap looking, and pretty much straight up awesome.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II:  “The mind is a labyrinth.”  This is a profoundly strange movie.  It’s an old favorite of mine, and I totally get why.  But after probably a decade without seeing it, this rewatch put how bloody strange it is into perspective.  The editing is all off, the story hops in weird ways, the acting and dialog are very wonky, and the music is bugnuts.  It’s totally anti-climactic and has several pretty big problems.  But I still find it very compelling, like a very gory adult fairy tale.  All the puzzle/riddle/maze stuff is great, and I think handled the best of all the films in the series.  It doesn’t shy away from physically traveling to hell, as most movies of this sort would; teasing for an hour and ten minutes, then giving a couple brief glimpses in the last reel.  No, this time we spend a third to half the film in the twisting strangeness of mat paintings and forced perspective.

Evil Dead (2013):  As soon as the Paul Dano looking chump opened the book and it was revealed to just be garden variety Satanism, I pretty much checked out.  One of the things I always liked about the original Evil Dead films was the Lovecraft hints.  The movie looks nice, but otherwise is just a bunch of boring retreads.  I’m not against remakes.  But Evil Dead 2 and (to a lesser degree) Army of Darkness already remade Evil Dead, and both movies had 100% more excitement and fun.  Skip it.  Watch the original.  Nothing to see here.

Jack the Giant Slayer:  Another ‘revisionist’ fairy tale, this by the numbers snooze-fest looks and feels like a made for TV movie from 20 years ago (10th Kingdom, Gulliver’s Travels, etc.).  A cast of better-than-this actors phone in performances, dishing out lifeless dialog that doesn’t even have the good taste to be memorably bad.  CG used where practical effects would have likely been easier, cheaper, and certainly look better.  Ho-hum.

Welcome to the cutting edge of 1992.

    Friday night through Saturday, I was on mission.  Co-Dork’s lair.  Blu-ray player.  Chinese food.  Like John Rambo before me, I got the job done.

Melvin & Howard:  Man, can I pick ‘em.  I thought this movie was going to be about a guy hanging out with Howard Hughes, not a s#!+ kicking hillbilly without the sense (or cents) to get his slack-jawed life together.  Between his soft-headed first wife, sleazy bosses, and own lack of brain cells, it’s a wonder our grease stained blue collar hero can drive and sing crappy songs at the same time, much less succeed in life.  As the movie progresses toward its climax (?!), the filmmakers rely on the viewer to be well versed in the actual shenanigans the film is inspired by…which I’m not.  This was up for Oscars?  This WON Oscars?  Maybe I can stop using Geena Davis’ win as my example when I point to how moronic the Oscars are.

My 2 minutes are the best part.

Jubal:  A good cast does a good job with a fairly standard collection of Western tropes.  There’s not really a heck of a lot to this movie, nor a lot to make one take note, beyond the excellent cast.  It was fine, and perfectly watchable, but not especially memorable.

Videodrome:  “Nobody on Earth was made for that show.”  Cronenberg’s grimly disturbing, and creepily prescient vision of the entertainment industry is quintessentially 80s in its execution, but timeless in its vision.  James Woods only thinks he’s an amoral would-be TV tycoon, peddling sleaze to the lowest of the low.  But when he discovers Videodrome, he may have found a line even he isn’t willing to cross.  Is it simply broadcasts of sadistic murders, or is it the beginning of a new political/religious/evolutionary force?

The Video Dead: A really, really weird 80s zombie movie, it’s not very good, but it’s certainly …um…unique.  A cursed TV, wandering zombies, the Garbage Man, a cowboy.  OK.  This isn’t a great movie by any means.  But it’s a fun 80s weirdo, with a cover you probably remember from poking around video stores 20 years ago.  Worth checking out for the strangeness, if nothing else.  And it doesn’t play out as one expects these films to go, which is a nice surprise.

French Stewart!  What happened?

    After my return from the abode of my counterpart, I finally cranked out the last few pages of da Vinci’s Ghost, from the author of The Fourth Part of the World.  Good, entertaining and informative history.  Da Vinci seems like he’d have been fun to hang with.

Fantastic Voyage:  The slow pace might be tough for some, but this voyage into inner space is pretty good.  Nice effects and a solid cast, as well as some rather overblown theatrics of Science! help sell the crazy.  There’s also a good dose of Cold War paranoia.  The opening of the movie feels like it dropped right out of a spy film.  It goes astray in the last act, and I can’t say that the resolution is especially satisfying.  But all in all, a fair sci-fi adventure flick from the 60s.

    Other than that, I’ve been addicted to Prog Rock all this week.  Started reading a book, Yes is the Answer, which is spawning more interest than usual.  It’s interesting going back to this music as a total outsider.  I don’t use drugs.  I wasn’t alive when Prog was at its height (or, I was just being born).  But I feel a certain connection to it.  The grandiose storytelling, the operatic sound and theatricality, the more Classical than Country composition.  Love it.


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